After Isaiah Thomas lit the Chicago Bulls up for 33 points in Boston’s Game 4 victory, the Celtics’ All-Star said his teammates have given him the energy to play through an emotionally taxing time in his life.
“Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here, so I just feed off what the guys give me,” Thomas said during his post-game press conference, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “[My teammates] give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me.
“Being here is what makes me, I guess, sane. It makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”
Thomas lost his 22-year-old sister, Chyna, in an automobile accident in Washington State on April 15, one day before Game 1 of Boston’s first-round series against Chicago. He did not speak with media and sat alone on the court moments before the game.
It was Avery Bradley, among others, who went over to console Thomas at the time. Bradley then delivered a heartfelt post-game message after the Celtics rallied to win Game 3 in Chicago.
“Isaiah played a clip from [Kevin Garnett] before the game, and it kind of got us going a little bit,” Bradley told ESPN on the sideline. “KG said some inspirational words for us, and it reminded us — Celtics, we’re always supposed to be the hardest playing team every single night.
“And we’re supposed to use Isaiah’s family — use that as inspiration and come out and play hard for him and his family. And that’s what we did tonight.”
Thomas later released his first statement through the Celtics’ PR team, thanking everyone from fans to teammates and the organization for their support in this trying time of his life.
A statement from Isaiah Thomas: pic.twitter.com/ZkcvTpQ4oq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 19, 2017
Through four playoff games, Thomas is averaging 25.5 points on 45.8 percent shooting from the field and six assists. Boston’s coach couldn’t believe how well his star point guard has played.
“(Given) what he’s been through, it’s unfathomable the way he has performed on the court,” Brad Stevens said. “Really incredible.”
The Celtics’ first-round series against the Bulls is headed back to Boston for Game 5.