Sports can give us the best of moments, and Isaiah Thomas put up one for the ages on Tuesday night. Thomas scored 53 points -- including 29 in the fourth quarter and overtime -- as the Celtics came back from a 14-point deficit to beat the Wizards 129-119 and take a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinals series.
For Thomas, it ties the 14th highest-scoring game in NBA playoff history, and makes his mark as a true Celtics great. Thomas has dealt with so much these past three weeks, from the death of his sister Chyna, , to requiring oral surgery after . Thomas has had so much go against him, not just in these last few weeks, but throughout his life, and he has persevered and overcame every obstacle.
Small players should not be good in the playoffs. That was my thinking coming into this year, anyway. You have higher intensity, and teams more ready to pack the paint and swat them. It just does not matter with Thomas. Against bigger opponents he uses the glass or goes nearly parallel to the ground with his fadeaway. He finds big shots, he loses players on switches, he creates looks where there are none, and in the end, he makes the shots. Thomas' efficiency (18-of-33) shouldn't be possible with the kind of attention he draws, but he made it happen.
With everything stacked against him, Thomas established himself as one of the best playoff performers in the game, and the Celtics are now two wins away from the Eastern Conference finals.
The Wizards deserve their own credit for contributing to this legend. John Wall had 40 points and 13 assists and the Wizards lost despite having a double-digit lead. They lost every ounce of their poise and Bradley Beal was a complete no-show in Game 2. The Wizards had about 15 chances to bury the Celtics, take a 1-1 split back to D.C. with the knowledge that they had led for the majority of the series, despite a series of unfortunate events befalling them. But they squandered those, missed the key shots, turned the ball over, rushed their offense and failed to create a good look on their final possession in regulation in a tie game.
But that's how it goes, and you still need the hero. Thomas is definitely the hero. He's the hero for Boston, overcoming so much personal adversity to put on an all-time performance. He's a hero for the playoffs, ruining the Wizards with sublime shot making. He's the biggest story in the East after tonight, and after the Celtics went down 2-0 to the Bulls, they've now won six straight, and you wonder, "if Thomas is going to do this what's to stop him from just keeping on doing it?"
What if this really is Boston's year? You need a special player to make that happen, and a special team. The Celtics weren't supposed to be the 1-seed, but they are. They weren't supposed to come back vs. the Bulls, but they did. Isaiah Thomas is supposed to be too small to be a superstar, but he's a superstar. "Supposed to be" means nothing to these Celtics, and no one embodies that more than Thomas.
NBA fans will remember this one for a long time, and they should. Isaiah Thomas is something special, and he has a lot more special moments in front of him.