Brad Stevens: 'All signs positive' for Isaiah Thomas' return

BOSTON — Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Isaiah Thomas felt good the day after suffering a mild left ankle sprain and expects his All-Star point guard will be on the floor for Thursday’s Game 6 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

“Every update I’ve gotten is positive,” Stevens said Wednesday afternoon during a conference call after the team flew back to Boston. “Isaiah seems really positive about it, feels good. I’m sure they’ll take extra looks at it now that we’ve arrived home, but the swelling wasn’t bad and he feels good. So all signs point toward him being ready to go [in Game 6].”

Thomas was still on the floor early in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's Game 5 despite the fact Boston trailed by 31 points. He landed awkwardly following a layup and came up hobbling a bit. He initially tried to walk it off, but he soon committed an intentional foul and ran straight to the locker room.

Thomas was adamant after the loss that he would play on Thursday.

"I'm great. Ready for Game 6,” Thomas said. “I’m playing no matter what. I'm not going to sit out. I just tweaked it. I tweaked it in Game 4 as well in the fourth quarter, so I just tweaked it again. And it hurt right when it happened, but I came back [to the locker room], and I'll be all right."

Thomas, who entered Tuesday's action as the NBA's leading scorer in the playoffs, scored only seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. He was minus-33 in 29:19 of playing time. Thomas said the Hawks sent two or three defenders at him on every play, making it difficult for him to get going offensively.

During Wednesday’s call, Stevens also reaffirmed that shooting guard Avery Bradley, sidelined since Game 1 with a hamstring injury, remains “extremely unlikely” to play in this series.

“There’s nothing new from my end that I’ve been told,” Stevens said. “I did not ask today, but, as I’ve said all along, it would be extremely unlikely that he would be able to suit up in this series.

"The injury, plus just what a hamstring injury can do moving forward, is something that we just have to be very, very careful with, and Avery has got to be very, very careful with. He feels better. As of two days ago, or yesterday, he had done a little bit more jogging, etc., but had experienced some soreness after that, which is not atypical for trying to come back from a hamstring injury. Everything I’ve been told, I’ve shared it with [reporters] the whole time."