Basketball

Playing keeps Isaiah 'sane'

Celtics star says he's an emotional wreck after death of his sister but feeds off support of teammates

EASTERN CONFERENCE, 1ST RD PLAY-OFFS, GAME FOUR
CHICAGO BULLS BOSTON CELTICS
95 104
  • Best-of-seven series tied at 2-2

Isaiah Thomas has endured a difficult and emotional week following the recent death of his sister, but he has still managed to elevate his game in the play-offs.

Speaking for the first time since his sister, Chyna, died on April 15 in a single-vehicle car crash, the Boston Celtics star said he is thankful for the support of his teammates.

"Mentally and emotionally, I'm not here, so I just feed off what the guys give me," Thomas said yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Thomas delivered 33 points and seven assists as the Celtics drew level in their first-round play-off series with a 104-95 away victory over the Chicago Bulls.

"(My teammates) give me a lot of confidence. I can't do it without those guys. They believe in me," Thomas said.

"Being here is what makes me, I guess, sane. It makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he is in awe of how Thomas is handling himself both on and off the court.

"I can't believe it," said Stevens. "What he's been through and the day-to-day, it's been unfathomable the way that he's performed on the court.

"It's been really incredible. And it didn't go our way in Boston, but the guys were resilient enough to come back and tie this up. What he has done has been remarkable."

But, when it comes to basketball, not everyone is willing to cut Thomas some slack this week.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is taking exception to Thomas's offensive style and claimed Thomas regularly gets away with carrying the basketball.

"He had a hell of a game tonight. But when you're allowed to discontinue your dribble on every possession, he's impossible to guard," Hoiberg said.

"He's impossible to guard when you're able to put your hand underneath the ball and take two or three steps and put it back down. It's impossible to guard him in those situations."

Asked about Hoiberg's comments, Thomas said he has no plans to change his style of play.

He said: "That's not the reason I'm an impossible cover.

"I guess (Hoiberg) is just going to continue to say it. I've been dribbling that way my whole life."

Meanwhile in Indianapolis, LeBron James scored 33 points and made key plays to give the defending NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers a 106-102 victory at Indiana and a sweep of their play-off series yesterday morning.

The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 4-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round match-up and will next face the winners of the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks series.

"Once again, we just had to weather the storm," said James.

"We beat a very good team." - AFP


OTHER RESULTS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  • Oklahoma City Thunder 109 Houston 113 (Houston lead series 3-1)
  • Utah Jazz 105 Los Angeles Clippers 98 (Series tied at 2-2)
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