Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics have overcome two tough playoff series, pushed to Game 7 by the Washington Wizards.
Kelly Olynyk was an unlikely hero, scoring 26 points off the bench in the high-pressure series clincher, but Isaiah Thomas once again led the way for Boston. He scored a team-high 29 points with 12 assists to go with that for a double-double.
Mighty IT has been explosive for the Celtics all season and has given them life time and time again throughout the playoffs. For Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, he decided to take a trip to Celtics history to prepare for the showdown.
Thomas flipped the pages back to the Celtics' last championship run, turning to the 2008 NBA Playoffs for some inspiration. Isaiah studied Boston's seven-game series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"All night last night and day I watched 2008 Paul Pierce versus LeBron, and how special that game was. Two superstars going at it, guarding each other, and it was a historic game. I definitely did my studying, and I knew it was going to be a big time game tonight," Thomas said after the game.
That series was an all-timer, ending with Game 7 in Boston. LeBron James scored 45 points, but Pierce nearly went blow-for-blow with him by scoring 41 of his own. The Celtics were able to eliminate LeBron in a down-to-the-wire five-point game and would go on to win the title.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy at all, and we came out on top. That says a lot about the team we are, and we believe in each other. We just kept going," Thomas said of the Celtics' effort in their latest Game 7 victory.
"The game wasn't always what we wanted it to be, it wasn't the perfect game, but we kept going to stay the course and that was what this team has done all season long. It's a special moment for us, but we only have a little time to celebrate and then we've gotta focus on the Cavs."
Boston's played 13 of the maximum 14 games they could have competed in through the first two rounds of the playoffs while LeBron and company have enjoyed two smooth sweeps. The Cavaliers have been enjoying a restful postseason.
James will certainly look to rewrite his ugly playoff history against Boston this time around, but Thomas already had his eyes on scouting out James when the Celtics were riding the original "Big Three" wave. Their series begins Wednesday in Boston.