Isiah Thomas on Celtics-Cavs: ‘Cleveland has really taken control of the series’

"Going back to Boston for Game 5, that's going to be a very tough game for the Celtics to win."

LeBron James Terry Rozier
LeBron James looks to pass against Terry Rozier in the third quarter of Game 4. –Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Isiah Thomas predicts Game 5 is going to a tough one for the Celtics to win.

“Cleveland has really taken control of the series, from a confidence standpoint,” Thomas said on NBA TV after Boston’s 111-102 loss Monday. “It really started in Game 2. Even though the Celtics won Game 2 on their home floor, Cleveland was up 20-plus points in that game. They were up 20-plus points in the third game and they were up 20 [in the fourth game].”

Thomas is actually wrong about the deficit in Game 2; The Cavaliers’ biggest lead was only 11 points. But his point is that the Celtics have yet to take command of a contest since giving the Cavaliers a good ol’ fashioned beatdown in Game 1. Though the series is tied and 2-2 — and Boston and Cleveland have both won eight of the series’ 16 quarters — Thomas said the Cavs are in the driver’s seat.

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“At some point in time, Boston has to figure out a way to get close,” Thomas said. “Because the last three games — even though Cleveland, again, lost Game 2 — they never really had control of the game. Going back to Boston for Game 5, that’s going to be a very tough game for the Celtics to win. They still have the advantage because they’re playing at home, but it’s going to be a tough game for them to win.”

At 9-0, the Celtics are undefeated at the TD Garden this postseason. As Marcus Smart said after Game 4, “we play well at the crib.” But the team has struggled on the road, which Thomas attributes to youth. Thomas, who won two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons, said the Celtics lacked patience at times in Game 4.

“You have a difficult time understanding how to win on the road,” he said of young players. “You can’t be as carefree on the road as you are at home . . . That’s just a learning experience in terms of learning how to win playoff games on the road.”