The Boston Celtics sit a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the race for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed, but All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas is ready to treat Wednesday's showdown between the two squads as just another day on the schedule.
"It's just another game," Thomas said Tuesday, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. "I think we've got to treat it like that. I mean being No. 1 in the standings, you don't feel different. I don't at least. I'm treating it like another game."
Thomas may be treating it like just another game, but the contest at TD Garden gives the Celtics a golden opportunity to seize the driver's seat in the battle for home-court advantage in a potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup. Any advantage they can get is critical considering LeBron James has been to the last six NBA Finals as a member of the Cavaliers and Miami Heat.
Thomas also made a point of saying he doesn't care whether Cleveland rests James or other marquee players in Wednesday's game:
I mean, at this point, I don't care who plays. If they don't play, that'll be good. If they do, we'll be there at 8 o'clock to play them. I'm fine with either way they go. You can't control that decision but, if they do play, it would definitely be a really good game and, if they don't, we've just got to figure out how to get a win anyway.
Resting players has become such a talking point this season, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently sent a memo to team owners, calling it "an extremely significant issue for our league," per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
Despite Silver's warnings, Forsberg noted Cleveland could be in a position to rest players Wednesday since it is 1-9 on the road in the second game of back-to-backs in 2016-17 and plays the Orlando Magic Tuesday. James also just played 52 minutes in Sunday's double-overtime win over the Indiana Pacers.
According to Forsberg, Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue previously said he plans on playing his full allotment of players against the Celtics, which in part underscores Thomas' claim it is just another game.
The Cavaliers are 2-1 against Boston this season and could clinch a critical tiebreaker with another victory Wednesday.
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