BOSTON – The TD Garden crowd stood in silence, paying their respects to Chyna J. Thomas, Isaiah Thomas’ 22-year-old sister who was killed in a one-car accident on Saturday.
Thomas stood next to his teammates, streams of tears slowly but surely flowing down his cheeks.
Game 1 of the playoffs was going to be an emotional affair for Thomas.
But dealing with that AND the death of his baby sister?
Thomas delivered an impressive, gutsy effort with a game-high 33 points against the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of their best-of-seven playoff series.
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But he didn’t get enough help from those around him, resulting in Boston dropping a 106-102 Game 1 loss to the Bulls. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be Tuesday at the TD Garden.
The Celtics had one opportunity after another in the closing minutes to swing the game’s momentum in their favor, only for shots to be off the mark or an inability to get defensive rebounds which only added to the pressure Chicago’s two-headed monster – Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade – puts on a team defensively.
A jumper by Bobby Portis with 1:18 to play gave the Bulls a 101-92 lead which essentially put the game away.
Boston got a quick lay-up from Al Horford and forced the Bulls into calling a time-out as they struggled to get the ball past half court.
Jimmy Butler scored on a driving lay-up, with Boston’s Jae Crowder coming back with a 3-pointer.
Butler, who led the Bulls with 30 points, was called for an offensive foul which gave the Celtics the ball back trailing by six points.
Crowder missed a pair of contested off-balance 3’s before the Bulls got the rebound and soon got the ball back into the hands of Butler.
He was fouled and split a pair of free throws.
Moments later, Isaiah Thomas drained a 3-pointer that made it a 104-100 game.
Chicago’s in-bound pass with less than 14 seconds to play resulted in an official review when it was not clear as to who the ball last touched before it went out of bounds.
After the review, the official call on the floor – Chicago Bulls ball – was overturned which gave the Celtics possession of the ball with 14.1 seconds to play.
Thomas drove into the lane and scored with 7.5 seconds to play which made it a one-possession game.
The Bulls immediately called a time-out.
Out of the time-out, they got the ball into Butler’s hands.
He was fouled with 3.3 seconds to play, and made both free throws that sealed the victory for the Bulls.
It was fitting that the game was decided in the closing moments considering after three quarters of play, it was tied at 74.
After three quarters of play, the Celtics found themselves exactly where they were to start the game.
With a 74-all tie going into the fourth, Butler struck first with a jumper to put Chicago ahead 76-74. Boston cut the lead in half when Gerald Green made the second of two free throws with 10:24 to play.
The Celtics seemed incapable of getting the much-needed defensive stop, with the Bulls getting major contributions from players other than Butler and Wade.
Robin Lopez stepped up big as a scorer with 12 of his 14 points in the first half.
And off the bench, Portis had a Taj Gibson-like game – a thorn in the Celtics' side who the Bulls traded away – with a near double-double of 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
Despite the Celtics having one of their worst games in a while, they were down 87-85 with 6:11 to play following an Al Horford dunk which seemed to get the TD Garden crowd to their feet.