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Isaiah Thomas stars in Game 1 of playoffs following the death of his sister


Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images(BOSTON) — Just a day after his sister died in a one-car crash, star point guard Isaiah Thomas played 38 minutes and scored a team-high 33 points in the Boston Celtics’ first-round Game 1 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Thomas added six assists in five rebounds, but it was not enough as Chicago upset the top-seeded Celtics 106-102 on Sunday night.

There was a pregame moment of silence at the TD Garden to honor Chyna Thomas, who died early Saturday morning in the state of Washington. Isaiah learned of her death later that afternoon.

Head coach Brad Stevens told reporters Thomas was “really hurting” leading up to the game.

Stevens also praised Thomas before the game, saying:

“I don’t think there’s any question that people around here have a great affinity for him. And we’ve all, even in my short time here, when you see that really tough things happen to people, this [Boston] community really rallies around them. So you can already feel that. You can already feel, as I was at church this morning, I could feel people coming up to me, and they all wanted to know how he was doing and all talking about it. When you get here, that’s all everybody wants to talk about. I think it’s going to be really emotional. And that’s part of what makes this place really special is they get it. I think they really appreciate Isaiah, and I know Isaiah really appreciates everybody here.”

Jimmy Butler, who played with Thomas in the past two All-Star games and led all Bulls’ scorers in Game 1 with 30 points, said afterwards, “He’s a helluva player. It just goes to show the type of player and man he is to go out there and battle through what he was going through for his organization and team.”

Stevens left open the possibility of Thomas missing some time in the series, saying, “Whatever he needs to do, he needs to do, and we’ll help him in any way.”‘

Game 2 will be played in Boston on Tuesday night.

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