BOSTON — Celtics’ guard Isaiah Thomas is expected to give Game 1 against the Bulls a go Sunday evening, but less that two hours before tipoff it still wasn’t a sure thing.
“I think his intention is to play,” coach Brad Stevens said about 1 hour 45 minutes before the game scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CDT. “But we’ve talked a little bit last night and then today about, if he goes through it and he feels like he needs to not [play], then whatever he wants. … He’s hurting. It’s a tough situation.”
Thomas’ 22-year-old sister, Chyna, was killed Saturday in a one-car accident in Federal Way, Washington, not far from Tacoma, where she and the 28-year-old Celtics star are from.
Thomas went through a shoot-around Sunday at the TD Garden, after which he was, according to Stevens, “really struggling.” Thomas’ teammates have tried to support him since they — and Thomas — learned of the awful news after Saturday’s team practice.
“Everybody reached out,” Stevens said. “It’s a close-knit team. He’s a big part of it. Isaiah is a great teammate. Isaiah is a great husband. He’s a great father. He’s a great guy. And a great son and brother. I think ultimately we just all tried to do our part and let him know we were thinking about him.”
Asked how he expected his team to react, Stevens said being there for Thomas is of greater importance.
“The game will play itself out the way the game plays itself out,” he said. “Our guys have spend all week preparing really hard and are really excited to get a chance in the playoffs, and at the same time, obviously, more important things happen in life. I don’t think my job is necessarily to separate the two. My job is to be there with the rest of the guys to support Isaiah.”
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