What is IT?
IT has the Celtics leading the Atlantic Division.
IT is becoming a 4th quarter legend.
IT is playing without fear, seeming to never get tired, and taking the shots others generally pass up.
Before I go further, I need to make sure you understand IT.
IT is not a word that rhymes with “Sit,” rather it is the initials of the Boston Celtics 5-9, 185lb point guard Isaiah Thomas. IT is his nickname, pronounced just like Eye-Tea.
Wednesday night as I am driving up the Mass Pike listening on the radio to the Celtics home game against the Toronto Raptors, the announcer tells me and his other listeners that Boston was trailing by 15 before he went to commercial break. I actually found myself saying, “Get it to within 12 before the end of the 3rd quarter, and IT will win this game.”
Never have I truly believed that about a Celtic, but with IT, the comeback seems to be the norm. Sure, Paul Pierce has instrumented some of the best games, and comebacks, in Celtics’ history, but he wasn’t doing it night-in and night-out like IT is this season. The NBA’s leader in 4th quarter scoring, 10.5 points per game, did just what we expected, going on a 9-0 run himself in the final frame, and leading his team to a comeback win, 109-104. He finished with 44 points, with 29 of them coming in the final 10 minutes of the game.
This was the 10th time this season that he has scored more than 15 points in the 4th quarter, which is twice as many as anyone else in the league. Those 10.5 points per 4th quarter, is the highest average in the past 20 years in the NBA. It is not just fun basketball we are watching, it is history. IT is growing into a Celtics’ legend before our eyes, and it is a refreshing look for a city who loves their basketball team.
This point guard is playing with so much desire to win, that even at three inches under 6-feet tall, IT is overshadowing the max contract that his teammate Al Horford signed this summer, which is the richest in team history. He is playing with so much passion, that no one is paying attention to the measly 4-and-a-half rebounds that center Amir Johnson is pulling in per game. And he is making each game worth tuning in, and not even realizing that Kelly Olynyk is averaging below his career numbers in points, rebounds and blocks per game. The point is, IT is carrying the Celtics future, and their present, on his 185lb frame, and even with his teammates having a down year, he is willing this franchise into the upper-echelon of the Eastern Conference.
The NBA’s 2nd highest scorer is averaging just under 30 points per game. For a player who is just 27 years old, he is not just doing all the right things on the court, but off as well with his social media, which many athletes struggle to find the balance.
Last week when he was announced as an Eastern Conference All-Star Reserve, he could have gone to Twitter, like many others, and questioned why he wasn’t a starter. After all, he averages more points and assists per game than both DeMar DeRozan and Kyrie Irving, the East starters, but that isn’t his style to complain.
Instead, he tweeted out, “I want to thank the coaches for selecting me. I also want to thank the fans, especially the Celtics fans for their incredible support.” He then followed up with a second post of, “It’s an honor to again represent the Boston Celtics, the greatest franchise in the NBA in this year’s ALL STAR weekend!”
He is making every Celtics’ fan gush with his respect for their franchise. There is one thing that Boston fans hold dear to their hearts, and that is their history, and when a current player, who was just three-years old when Larry Bird played his final game at the old Garden, recognizes the history of the team, he becomes Boston’s sweetheart athlete.
There is a reason why home games are full of #4 Celtics jerseys in the stands. There is a reason why you hear chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP” with every 4th quarter bucket. And there is a reason why Boston basketball fans are dreaming of post-season success this year, and it is all because the Celtics have IT.
IT isn’t just a clever nickname of someone’s initials. IT is what the Celtics fans have been waiting for since Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded away 4 years ago. IT is here, and there is nothing better than watching IT in the 4th quarter.
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