BOSTON – Two weeks ago, Isaiah Thomas was less than 24 hours removed from the death of his baby sister, Chyna Thomas.
He played well, but it wasn’t enough to get the win because he got very little help from his teammates.
Call it a lesson learned.
Because 24 hours after attending the funeral of his sister in Tacoma, Washington, Thomas delivered yet another 33-point performance – just like he did in Game 1 against Chicago.
But there was a difference on Sunday – he got some help this time.
Thomas’ scoring coupled with a pair of teammates also cracking the 20-point plateau – Jae Crowder and Al Horford – was enough to propel Boston to a hard fought 123-111 Game 1 win over the Washington Wizards.
Game 2 in this best-of-seven series will be Tuesday night at the TD Garden.
This game, like most of the four regular season battles with Washington, was not easy to come by even when the Celtics seemingly had the game under control in the second half.
After a red-hot third quarter that propelled Boston to a 15-point lead, the Celtics cooled off considerably to start the fourth.
That’s all the Wizards needed as they opened the quarter with a 9-0 run, similar to how they began the game.
Boston’s first points of the fourth didn’t come until Thomas made a short floater with just under eight minutes to play.
Washington showed tremendous fight in trying to get back in the game, while the Celtics did what they needed to do in order to keep a healthy distance score-wise between themselves and the Wizards.
Indeed, the Celtics had fought too hard and for too long to blow this game.
The Celtics didn’t take their first lead until a Crowder 3-pointer put Boston ahead 73-71 with just under seven minutes to play in the third quarter. He finished with a playoff career-high 24 points and six rebounds.
Washington soon tied it up, only for Crowder to strike again with another 3-pointer that made it a 76-73 game.
The Celtics continued to surge ahead.
After a Marcus Smart steal, Avery Bradley moments later drained a wide open 3-pointer to give Boston an 81-74 lead to cap off a 13-3 run by the Celtics which led to a Wizards time-out with 4:45 to play in the quarter.
Boston continued to pull away, ending the third with a 27-9 run which gave them a 95-80 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Wizards didn’t just come out hitting to start the game; they were absolutely smacking the Celtics around something silly as they opened the game with a 16-0 run and led by as many as 17 points in the first quarter.
Marcin Gortat, who had a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds, did most of the damage early on. But as the game progressed, Washington’s John Wall (20 points, 16 assists) and Bradley Beal (27 points, four assists) put their imprint on the game as well.
Thomas got the Celtics on the scoreboard after being fouled on a three-point attempt. He would give Boston its first points of the game, making all three free throws with 8:04 to play in the quarter.
The Celtics spent the rest of the first quarter facing a double-digit deficit which stood at 38-24 at the end of the first.
Boston opened the second quarter with a 7-2 run which led to Wizards coach Scott Brooks calling a time-out with 10:27 to play in the half with Boston now trailing 40-31.
The Celtics surge continued with the eventually tying the game up at 42-all after a Crowder 3-pointer.
Washington regained the lead, but a 3-point play by Avery Bradley tied the game up again at 49-all.
Boston continued to hang close in the first half, which gave them the confidence to surge ahead in the second for the victory.