Isaiah Thomas Earns Bulls' Admiration, Respect After Emotional Game 1 Effort


Point guard Isaiah Thomas scored a team-high 33 points Sunday in Game 1 of the Boston Celtics' first-round playoff matchup with the Chicago Bulls, one day after the death of his sister in a one-car crash. The funeral details have not been finalized, but Stevens is hoping the Celtics can attend it as a team if possible. The makeup of the roster for next season seems wide open beyond point guard Jeremy Lin, with center Brook Lopez perennial trade bait even as he adapted his game well this season to fit Atkinson's offense.

However, there were still multiple times, particularly prior to the game, when his composure was tested.

Hours before that moment of silence, Thomas was seen overcome with emotion and being comforted by teammate Avery Bradley on the sidelines during shootaround.

His coach, Brad Stevens, had admitted before the game that Thomas was "struggling" and said he'd left the decision whether to play up to Thomas. "Obviously, it's tragic circumstances that he and his family are going through right now. Our thoughts, first and foremost are with them".

Golden State's Kevin Durant talked about Thomas after the Warriors' Game 1 victory over Portland.

'It says a lot. Isaiah's the one I feel like was the best. "We grew up in the same area". "I'm going to be there for him no matter what". The fact that he's even here is just a lot of credit to him. He played a staggering 38 minutes tonight and was a +12 BPM when he was on the floor for the Celtics tonight.

Others, however, came to Barkley's defense, noting that those disgruntled were taking the former athlete's words out of context. "I'm not quite sure who's in his life", James said. "But he's a tough guy, and I know he's going to be OK". "That makes me uncomfortable because that tells me he's not in shape to play".

Game 2 in the first-round series is Tuesday night in Boston. He looked toward the rafters just before the tip-off. "He is clearly devastated like we all would be if we lost a sibling, but sitting on the sideline [crying] that makes me uncomfortable".

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

Shaquille O'Neal, who hosts with Barkley, offered a different viewpoint on the subject. And days won't get any easier for him, but he somehow plays like that'. He scored 13 points during the opening nine minutes of the game and was riding the wave of the electric crowd.