Boston Celtics' star player, Isaiah Thomas, had an emotional first round matchup against the Chicago Bulls after finding out his sister's death just hours before the game.
Isaiah Thomas put up 33 points and six assists, playing a day after his sister was killed in a auto accident. The Bulls have now won three of five meetings with the Celtics this season.
It's created a delicate balancing act.
He scored 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, including five during an 8-0 run midway through the period that put Chicago in control, and they held on to beat the Celtics 106-102 on Sunday.
But if there's a group built for such a challenge, it would seem to be this one.
There's empathy in the Celtics' locker room.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley, a former player for Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, said, "Me and Isaiah have known each other since we were kids". But I think the next extension of your family is who you're around every day, and your team.
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According to head coach Brad Stevens, Thomas is expected to play in Game 2 tonight and then fly home to Washington for his sister's funeral and to be with his family.
The Bulls try to take a stranglehold of this best-of-7 first-round series when Game 2 resumes Tuesday night (Wednesday AM in Manila) at the TD Garden. Smith died a few days after Stevens visited.
"Bobby, he's really been comfortable in that bench role, " Hoiberg said.
"We're like this", Jimmy Butler said, balling up his fist to show the team's tightness after a regular season with occasional fractures. "But we were together for some film, some walk-through, and we'll be back together [Tuesday]". The Bulls are led by three players who are or have recently been starring in the National Basketball Association, each with more than a handful of playoff experience. I think he's always had that leadership mentality.
Thomas played very well in Game 1, and one expects him to come out with a fury in Game 2 as well.
James said Thomas's performance under the circumstances was "unbelievable".
DeRozan made a pull-up jumper with 1:43 remaining to give Toronto a lead they wouldn't relinquish. "I look at this as this momentum carries him and the Celtics". But Bradley said while the team continues to grieve for him, it can't be a distraction when they are on the court. "This was hard, and I felt like our guys really dealt with it best".