On a night where sports took a backseat to the real world for a moment, Isaiah Thomas’ late sister, Chyna, was honored before Sunday’s first round playoff game.
Playing just one day after 22-year-old Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident in their home state of Washington, Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points. But Jimmy Butler showed how valuable he can be, overcoming a loud TD Garden crowd and scoring 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter in the win.
The Celtics took an 88-87 lead with 5:33 to go, before Chicago went on a 14-4 run to push back in front. Boston got within two on a layup by Thomas with 7.5 seconds following a Chicago turnover, but Butler hit a pair of free throws to seal it, turning this 1-8 matchup into a series.
Moment of Silence
Boston held a pregame moment of silence for Thomas’ sister. He looked up towards the rafters just before tip-off and wrote several messages to his sister on his sneakers.
— CSN New England (@CSNNE) April 17, 2017
In the PREVIEW written on Friday, the keys to this game were rebounding and the effect of the veterans on Chicago.
In four regular season games, the Celtics were outrebounded 195-157 against the Bulls, including 60-29 on the offensive glass.
On Sunday, Chicago outrebounded Boston 32-16 in the first half, including 16 offensive rebounds, with a final total of 53-36 on the boards.
The playoff experience of Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Jimmy Butler showed in the win, but it was all Butler in the fourth quarter, especially during the 14-4 run that secured the victory for Chicago.
— NBA (@NBA) April 17, 2017
Jimmy Butler’s 15 points in the final 12 minutes were the most by a Bull on the road in the playoffs since Michael Jordan’s historic 16 point fourth quarter in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals, culminating in the buzzer-beating jumper by MJ to win the title.
A lot is left to be desired by Bulls fans before they can compare Butler to Jordan, but a few more finishes by #21 would only help.
Finishing with 11 and 12 points, respectively, Wade and Rondo may need to step it up if the Bulls want to have a legitimate shot at shocking the one seed.