BOSTON — Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas is back in the starting lineup for Monday’s clash with the Washington Wizards after missing the past two games with a right knee bone bruise.
“[Thomas is] feeling a lot better,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “I think all the treatment over the weekend, which he had a ton of, was all positive and so he’s good to go.”
The Thomas-less Celtics went 1-1 on their brief two-game road trip, struggling to put Brooklyn away on Friday night and then watching the Philadelphia 76ers rally from a double-digit second-half deficit on Sunday.
“I’m all right. I won’t be 100 [percent], but I’m good enough,” said Thomas. “I worked out a little bit [Sunday]. I didn’t feel that much pain, but I’ll be good. If I’m able to play, it’s because I’m able to somewhat be myself. I’m not going to play if I’m going to hurt the team.
“I can’t sit this one out. I know what’s at stake, I know it’s a big game for us. I did a lot of treatment in order to be able to play tonight. I was making sure I was in that training room and getting right.”
Stevens said he did not expect Thomas to be on any sort of a minutes restriction. Thomas engaged in the team’s light pregame walk-through and Stevens noted, “I have no idea how that translates to playing in a stance or running up and down the floor. But I’ve been told he’s fine.”
The Celtics are 2-4 in the games that Thomas has missed this season and average 100.8 points per game while shooting 42.9 percent when he’s not available. Boston is 42-22 with Thomas in the lineup and averages 108 points on 45.5 percent shooting.
Boston is 21-7 when it has its preferred starting five of Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford, and Amir Johnson together. That five will start Monday’s game.
The Celtics entered Monday’s tilt with a 1.5-game lead on the Wizards in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Stevens isn’t worried about jockeying for position as much as he is having his full team together.
“I think it’s about playing good basketball,” said Stevens. “That stuff sorts itself out. Obviously, you want to be as good of a seed as you can. I think that there’s no question about that. But, again, I’d like to have some healthy games here to play some good basketball and see if we can figure ourselves out as we head into the next month-plus.”