Isaiah Thomas plans to play in Game 2 of the Boston Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls before heading back to his native Washington to be with his family after losing his younger sister, Chyna Thomas, in a tragic car crash on Saturday morning.
A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast SportsNet New England reported Thomas’ intentions from the Celtics’ Monday walkthrough at their practice facility in Waltham, Mass.:
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) April 17, 2017
Celtics coach Brad Stevens later confirmed Thomas’ plans:
Isaiah Thomas plans to play in Game 2 in Boston and Game 3 in Chicago, per Brad Stevens.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 17, 2017
Chyna J. Thomas, 22, died in a one-car crash on Interstate 5 in Tacoma, Wash., at around 5 a.m. on Saturday morning. According to the Washington State Patrol, she was not wearing a seatbelt, and she died at the scene of the crash.
Thomas was informed of Chyna’s death after the Celtics’ Saturday afternoon practice and, after some deliberation, elected to play on Sunday evening. An emotional Thomas was somehow able to shine through unthinkable grief, scoring a game-high 33 points with six assists, five rebounds, one steal and just two turnovers in 38 minutes of floor time.
Despite Thomas’ heroics, though, the eighth-seeded Bulls were able to spring a 106-102 upset of the top-seeded Celtics, thanks in part to a huge second half from All-Star forward Jimmy Butler. Chicago now holds a 1-0 edge and home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series, which continues at TD Garden in Boston with Game 2 at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Thomas did not speak with the media after Sunday’s game or at Monday’s film session and walkthrough. Stevens told reporters that Thomas plans to play in Tuesday’s Game 2, then fly back to Washington for his sister’s services “either after the game [Tuesday night] or Wednesday morning.” The Celtics and Bulls will have two days off before reconvening in Chicago for Game 3 on Friday night.
Stevens emphasized that the plans are fluid and “subject to him changing if [Thomas] wants,” and said that when arrangements are finalized for Chyna’s services, the whole Celtics team will make an effort to attend them. From Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com:
“He’s trying his best to compartmentalize when he’s here to work on what he needs to work on, but I’m sure that’s difficult,” Stevens said. “But we were together for some film, some walk-through, and we’ll be back together [Tuesday]. I think he’s as good as he can be.”
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