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The Read & React: sweep the leg

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In another vintage Cobra performance, Marcus Smart shows no mercy against the Sixers.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas continues to flirt with history (Jared Weiss): Thomas made a little history Wednesday night, tying John Havlicek for a Celtics franchise record with his 40th consecutive 20-point game, per BBall Reference. Only 15 other players in NBA history have hit that mark in a season, all of whom are in the hall of fame or are Springfield bound.

The coaches taking the floor Wednesday night are still blown away by what he is achieving.

“He runs by you and you’re standing next to him and you realize just how unassuming he is,” Brown said. “It’s not like he’s 6’6. It’s not like he’s 230 lbs. and he still is so gifted and so elite and such a game a changer.

“Because he can shoot and then he can dance with the ball, then you come up and guard him and he’s able to take off and he’s clever at the rim. He can finish at the rim, use his body. He just is an All-Star for a reason and a 30-point NBA scorer for a reason and we felt all of that tonight.”

Thomas is the greatest weapon in Stevens’ arsenal, something that is hard not to take for granted.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

“When you know you’re getting 20-plus points from a guy on a given night, it’s pretty a special trait. It’s pretty special to know that. He’s been amazing with his consistency regardless of how he feels, regardless of little nicks and bruises and everything else. He just kind of keeps going. And he’s a tough guy, he’s a tough-minded guy, and his consistency’s been impressive. And I think consistency and being able to do it every night is what separates – right? – the guys that, obviously you mentioned Havlicek, but the great ones.”It was an appropriate comparison after Thomas will have his shot to pass Havlicek in this specific page in the Celtics’ history books.

Isaiah fell four points short of crossing the 30.0 ppg mark Wednesday night, which would pass Larry Bird’s franchise record of 29.9. He’ll need 34 points in Chicago Thursday night to cross that threshold.

How many points per game does Thomas average on the second night of back-to-backs?

34.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Missing Avery Bradley (Bill Sy): No, AB didn’t return to the lineup last night. It was his 19th game missed since straining his Achilles. All signs point to him returning after the All Star break, but with the Celtics playing as well as they have in his absence and with the trade deadline coming before Boston’s next home game on February 27th, you have to wonder if Bradley has seen his final game in the Garden from the home bench.

I know we’re getting way ahead of ourselves when we talk about Bradley, Smart, and Thomas all due new contracts next summer, but that has to be going through Ainge’s mind as he navigates the trade market this week. Given how well the Celtics have played without him and knowing how financially constrictive it’s going to be to retain all three of them, is Avery a trade chip? Also consider that Danny wouldn’t part with Terry Rozier in a potential Serge Ibaka trade. Thomas gave his stamp of approval on the current roster, but Celtics fans know that Ainge never sleeps and if he can make the team better, he’ll push sentimentality aside and make a deal.

Bradley is the only hold over from the Doc and Big Three era and personally, I’d hate to see him go. He’s epitomized what it means to be a Celtic—defense first and consistently getting better—and his mindset is just as valuable on the court as it is off. For what it’s worth, I loved this little moment in the second quarter when Gerald Green was pulled in favor of James Young after some questionable shot selection and shoddy D:

That’s Avery Bradley. Low key and team first.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The obligatory Marcus Smart blurb (Bill Sy): There’s an old baseball saying that goes something like every team wins 60 games, loses 60 games, and it only matters what you do in the other 42. In some convoluted way, that’s the perfect description for Marcus Smart. He’s the Other 42. With Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford handling the heavy lifting to assure the baseline sixty, guys like Smart (and Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder) are making the outside of the box plays like this youngamechanger steal from last night:

But the thing is, he’s contributing solid numbers in the counting stats department, too. It’s hard to ignore his numbers since Avery Bradley went down with his Achilles injury and more particularly, this month:

He had a ridiculous line of 21 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and EIGHT STEALS against the Sixers. It was the quintessential Smart game with big shots and big defensive stops in the clutch and the scary thing is, they’re becoming routine.