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Isaiah Thomas Likely Getting 1st Start With Celtics Wednesday

BOSTON (CBS) -- Isaiah Thomas has said he wants to be a starter, and for at least one night, the Celtics point guard will get his wish.

With projected starting point guard Marcus Smart sidelined with an illness, Thomas is expected to be out there with the starting five Wednesday night in Brooklyn when the Celtics play their first preseason game against another NBA team. We'd say first preseason game against NBA talent, but with the Nets that would be a bit of a stretch.

No matter who the competition is, Thomas will get to do something he hasn't done in his 27 games in a Celtics uniform. But let's hope that move is not a permanent one.

It's understandable for Thomas to want to start, given the fact that even at 5-foot-9 he's the best player on the team. The title of "starter" is usually associated with a player of that status. The Celtics have discussed the idea of starting Thomas, with president Danny Ainge leaving the decision up to head coach Brad Stevens, but the positives of Thomas off the bench outweigh him playing the first minutes of a given contest.

Ainge discussed both options on Toucher & Rich last month.

"Isaiah is a very unique player in that he is our best scorer and our most efficient scorer," Ainge said. "He has to expend a lot of energy to score, and his size, defensively, can sometimes be a challenge, but he's such an exciting and dynamic player. We want him at his best for 100 games, and those are reasons not to start him. But there are reasons to start him. It's not anything easy. Those will be decisions ironed out throughout training camp and the exhibition season, and maybe change throughout the year."

Thomas' defensive deficiencies remain the biggest detriment against him starting, because his career splits aren't far off from each other in the 154 career games he's started compared to the 129 games he's come off the bench. He averaged 17.2 points on 45 percent shooting as a starter (with roughly nine extra minutes on the floor) compared to 13.7 points on 42 percent shooting as a reserve. Last season, after arriving in Boston on deadline day, Thomas averaged 19 points on 47 percent shooting from the floor in 21 games off the bench, changing the makeup of the team and providing the added offensive spark the team needed to make their postseason push.

Breaking it down, it really doesn't matter if he's in the starting five or off the bench. The fact remains that Thomas is going to score, and he's likely going to do it in bunches.

It's also clear that when the game is on the line, Thomas will be on the floor for the Celtics. In the end, that's what matters most.

Tune in to Celtics-Nets on 98.5 The Sports Hub -- the flagship station of the Boston Celtics. Coverage begins 

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