Stevens: Thomas being with family before Game 1 is ‘a lot more important'


CHICAGO – The Boston Celtics are eager to get back on the court and face the Washington Wizards in the second round of the playoffs this weekend.
But for most of the Celtics, their thoughts following the team’s series-clinching 105-83 Game 6 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday was still with their point guard Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas’ younger sister Chyna J. Thomas was killed in a one-car accident on April 15 – the day before Game 1 in this now-completed first-round series against Chicago.
The two-time All-Star will return home to Tacoma, Wash. for her funeral on Saturday, then flip around and head back to Boston for the team’s Game 1 matchup against the Wizards on Sunday afternoon.
It will indeed be a quick turnaround for Thomas who had 12 points, five rebounds and six assists in Game 6.
“Tomorrow is a lot more important than Sunday,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “It’s difficult (turnaround), but it’s a basketball game. He’ll be ready to play. And if he decides when he gets there it’s too much, that’s OK. That’s fine. This (being with his family) is a lot more important.”
Since his sister’s death, Thomas’ teammates have rallied behind him during his time of grieving which Thomas has said on more than one occasion he greatly appreciates.
Avery Bradley is also from Tacoma, Wash., and has known Thomas since they were 11 and 12-year-old kids who shared the same dream of someday playing in the NBA.
Bradley is among those who have been impressed with the way Thomas has handled himself during this painful period.
“It’s really hard. It says a lot about him,” Bradley said. “Around this time, you just want to be by yourself or with your family. And he (Thomas) has to come in here and sometimes you don’t want to see people are laughing or joking around. You just … you almost want people to feel like you; be quiet. But I feel like he’s handling it as best as anyone could. We’ve been trying to be there for him. That’s the best way to treat a situation like this.”
Indeed, as the Celtics got deeper into the series it seemed that Thomas’ teammates got a better handle on how to balance focusing on the task at hand with showing the proper amount of respect to Thomas and all that he was dealing with following his sister’s death.
“Just try to help lift him up and give him the support he needs,” Boston’s Kelly Olynyk told “As far as out there (on the court), he’s a huge catalyst for us and just makes things happen so easily. We need him to be at his best, and we need to be at our best for him.”

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