Down 2-0 to the Hawks in their first round playoff series, Isaiah Thomas was not about to go down without a fight.
For all the good things that Thomas and the Celtics had accomplished this season, getting swept by the Hawks - a year after being swept by the Cavaliers in the same round - would end the year on a bitter note. Even with Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk watching from the bench in street clothes and Jae Crowder hobbled by the effects of a badly sprained ankle he suffered a month ago, the Celtics had enough last night to beat the Hawks and avoid being swept while giving Boston fans renewed hope that they can win this series.
The reason for this hope stands about 5-9 and wears number 4.
Thomas carried the Celtics to a 111-103 win with 42 points in as gutty of a playoff performance as I can remember in my lifetime. This wasn't Paul Pierce or Ray Allen having the benefit of being surrounded by fellow All-Stars when they had huge scoring performances in a playoff game. Thomas was left alone to carry his team last night against a tough Hawks team and he rose to the occasion. While it may be just a footnote in the story of an Atlanta series victory, for at least one night Thomas made sure that the country remembered that the Celtics had taken a step towards contention this season and that he is one of the best players in the NBA.