WALTHAM, Mass. – In any sport, one thing a team can’t prepare for is the unknown.
Last week, the Boston Celtics were the toast of the Eastern Conference after outlasting the defending league champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the top seed and home-court advantage. Then, the day before Boston’s playoff opener, Isaiah Thomas’ sister, 22-year-old Chyna Thomas, died in a one-car accident in Federal Way.
Boston, despite Thomas’ game-high 33 points, lost 106-102 to visiting Chicago in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series Sunday, and the possibility looms Tuesday of falling behind 2-0.
There’s empathy in the Celtics’ locker room.
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“I think the biggest thing is, they really care about each other,” coach Brad Stevens said Monday. “It’s really tough when he’s sitting there and some of his family is back in Seattle. … But I think the next extension of your family is who you’re around every day, and your team. … They care about one another and they support one another. That’s what you hope you have in a team, but it’s probably not always the case.”
Stevens said Thomas, a former standout for the Washington Huskies and Curtis High School in University Place, plans to play in Game 2, then travel home to be with family and help complete funeral arrangements.
Thomas was present for a film session and walk-through Monday, but did not speak with the media. Stevens said the All-Star guard intends to rejoin the team Friday for Game 3 in Chicago.
Stevens also emphasized that all basketball-related plans are up to Thomas.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley, a former player for Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, said,…