Celtics forward Rajon Raiola has a message for his team after the season, calling it a tough year but he doesn’t want the pressure to overshadow the positives.
The Boston Celtics will be without starting center Rajon Richards, who has a strained left calf and is expected to miss at least a week, but the team still has the most valuable player in the league in Isaiah Thomas, who is playing his best basketball of the season.
Thomas leads the league with 13.1 points per game and has been the primary playmaker for the Celtics.
He averages 8.1 assists per game, the third-highest total in the NBA, while shooting a blistering 51.7 percent.
Thomas has a plus-13 rating in the last six games, including the team’s most recent win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I don.t want to come out of the gate like I did last year, and I’m not going to be that player that just plays, you know, just has a nice game and then plays it,” Thomas said after the Celtics’ 99-84 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday night.
“I want to go out there and play.
If I can be better than that, I’ll be better.
If not, I’m going to find a way to be better.”
Ricky Rubio has played the best basketball in a Celtics uniform in each of the last four games, averaging 26.2 points per contest.
His shooting percentage is at 43.2 percent, up from 41.2 last season and the best mark in the conference.
Rubio is also leading the team with 3.4 blocks per game.
“The last couple games have been a little bit different,” Rubio said.
“It’s the first time I’ve been really in the zone, so it’s been a lot different.
We’re playing better than last year.
It’s just kind of coming into our season and seeing what’s happening.”
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas said his team is playing a much better game than last season.
(AP)Thomas said his focus is on the big picture, as he did last season when the Celtics lost to the Houston Rockets.
“We have to keep working,” Thomas added.
“You can’t just sit around and wait to get your points, you have to do what you can to help your team win.”
Cleveland coach Brad Stevens has made it clear his team isn’t a lock to win a championship this season.
“You can be disappointed in us, but you can also be excited,” he said.
“Our focus this year is on what we can do better.
We have a lot of great players, but it’s a team effort.
If you’re not playing together and it’s not working, then I’m sorry, but if you’re playing together, we have to change something.”