Just 18 days ago, Isaiah Thomas’ world was flipped upside down. On April 15th, Thomas lost his younger sister, Chyna, to a fatal car accident. Stricken with heartache and grief, Thomas has continued to do the thing his sister would have implored him to do; play basketball. While basketball is a game, it has never been just a game for Thomas. He has always referred to basketball as his ‘sanctuary’. And Tuesday night, on what would have been his sister’s 23rd birthday, that was never more evident.
Thomas honored his sister by putting his team on his back and willing them to victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Thomas scored a career-high 53 points in a 129-119 overtime win over the Washington Wizards. Thomas and the Celtics now hold a 2-0 lead over the Wizards. John Wall did all he could to keep the Wizards in the game, scoring 40 points and adding 13 assists, however Thomas’ barrage of big shots was too much to handle.
To put Thomas’ performance into NBA perspective, his 53 points were the most in a postseason game since Allen Iverson scored 55 in 2003. Thomas also came up just 1-point shy of the Celtics’ postseason scoring record (held by John Havlicek – 54 points). Thomas, however, did become the only player in Celtics’ history to score at least 50 points in the regular season and postseason in the same year. After the game, Thomas spoke of what it means to join great players such as Havlicek in Celtics’ history: “It’s nice to be in Celtics history with all the great players, but until you win a championship, you can’t consider yourself a great player. That’s what it’s all about.”
While Thomas is clearly dealing with emotional pain, he has also had his fair share of physical pain thrown into the mix. Thomas took an elbow from Otto Porter Jr. during Game 1 that caused the loss of a tooth. This resulted in a combined 11 hours of work by an oral surgeon and dentist to repair and replace the tooth. And despite barely being able to talk, Thomas once again showed his resolve: “There was no way I was sitting out. My sister wouldn’t want me to stop. When I’m in this arena, I know I can lock in and everything I do is for her.”
Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics will take on the Wizards in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday. You can catch all the action on ESPN @ 8:00 P.M. EST. Will Thomas and the Celtics continue their run toward the Eastern Conference Finals? Let me know in the comment section below.
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