Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas played with a heavy heart in the Celtics’ first game of their opening round NBA Playoff series on Sunday evening. Thomas tragically lost his 22-year old sister, Chyna Thomas, in a fatal car accident in Washington on Saturday. Thomas still started the game and scored 33-points in his 38 total minutes of game time. However, the Celtics could not get a one-game lead on the series, falling to the Chicago Bulls 106-102. The Celtics could not contain Jimmy Butler, who finished with 30 points and sealed the game to make it out of reach with two crucial made free-throws in the games closing minute.
Butler, along with Bulls forward Bobby Portis, bullied the Celtics from the three-point line. Butler shot 60% from beyond the arc and Portis missed just one of his attempted four three-point field goals for a highly efficient 75% three-point percentage. Portis finished with 19 points, the second most on the team behind the aforementioned 30 from Butler.
The second game of the series will take place Tuesday night and both teams will return to play it at TD Garden in Boston. Thomas has been confirmed to start this game as well but is expected to return home to Tacoma, Washington to be with his family before the team travels to Chicago for Game 3 on April 21. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens noted after game one that the entire team is doing everything they to can to help Thomas navigate through this difficult time. The whole team plans on attending the memorial services of Chyna Thomas if possible.
Thomas has received important emotional support from teammate Avery Bradley, a fellow Tacoma native who has known Thomas since they were both 11-years old. “Even though he wasn’t screaming or the usual Isaiah, he still went out there and fought hard. And it made us want to fight harder for him. We just made some mistakes that are fixable and we’ll have a chance to do it”, Bradley said, in anticipation of Game 2.
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