Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 33 points on 11-of-23 shooting to lead the Boston Celtics to an exhilarating comeback win in Game 1 of their second-round Eastern Conference series against the Washington Wizards by the score of 123-111.
However, two main storylines dominated the spotlight after the game.
First, the Celtics erased a 16-0 deficit to start the game and absolutely dominated in the second and third quarters to put themselves in control.
Secondly, Thomas lost a front tooth early in the game and the team doctor unsuccessfully tried to re-insert it. In the middle of the first quarter, he caught the wrong end of Otto Porter Jr.’s elbow at the top of the key and his tooth went flying out of his mouth to the floor, where he then casually picked it up.
As you can imagine, it must have been an odd feeling for Thomas, who had never experienced anything like it in his life.
“It just bothers me to talk. My tongue goes right through my tooth,” IT said at his postgame news conference. “I’ve never had dental problems so this is new. I’ve always had teammates that I’ve always clowned them about the tooth being out and now I’m one of them. So hopefully we can replace it as soon as possible.”
His teammates, of course, decided to have a little fun with their leader’s situation.
“He looks a little tougher. I like it,” quipped Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “I was making jokes during the game on the bench and I got him laughing, it was funny. There’s a guy from Seattle named Rodney Stuckey and he plays with a missing tooth and I told Isaiah he should go with that look for the rest of the playoffs. He laughed and said, ‘No, I’m getting it fixed tonight.’ He played well and definitely got our team going tonight.”
When the tooth fell out, the Celtics were down by 17. But, Thomas took the injury in stride and hit a number of shots to pull his team closer and closer.
“I wanted him to smile a little bit more. I don’t think he cracked a smile,” Jae Crowder said. “But it showed a little bit about what he’s about. Because he’s just going to keep playing no matter what. He’s a fighter, man. I’m sure he’ll get it fixed, but I just wanted him to smile just to show it off a little bit.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens also had a little fun with Thomas’ situation.
“He and my 7-year-old daughter [Kinsley] just gave each other the open-tooth smile,” Stevens laughed. “And he just — he made both 3s right after it fell out. So maybe that tooth was holding him back a little. No, I feel bad for him because he’s going to have to have some pretty significant dental work.”
He added, ”I think that obviously [losing a tooth] hurts and that’s not fun, but in comparison to what he’s gone through — even he was laughing and pseudo-smiling about it there for a while. But I think that what he’s been able to do is, I think I’ve used the word ‘unfathomable,’ and I’d stick with that. I can’t imagine being able to do it myself, if I were in the same situation. He’s incredible.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Thomas’ tooth injury will affect him in Game 2 on Thursday. For all the adversity that he’s gone through in his life and especially in recent times, don’t expect it to bother him at all.