BOSTON — Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas traveled home to Tacoma, Washington, on Wednesday morning to be with his grieving family after the death of his younger sister.
The Celtics released a statement from Thomas on Wednesday afternoon. “This has been without question the hardest week of my life,” he wrote, adding that he has been “overwhelmed by the love and support” directed at him since his sister, Chyna, died in a single-car accident on Saturday.
A statement from Isaiah Thomas: pic.twitter.com/ZkcvTpQ4oq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 19, 2017
During a conference call Wednesday afternoon, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said memorial services have not been finalized for Chyna Thomas, and that Isaiah Thomas is using the team’s two-day break to be with his family.
The Celtics, who lost the first two games of their playoff series against the Bulls, had an off day Wednesday and will travel to Chicago on Thursday. Game 3 is scheduled for Friday.
“It’s super hard on Isaiah,” Stevens said. “You can tell. I think that during the games and during walk-throughs and the film, he’s trying his very best to focus. You hear a lot of people talk about how that time — especially in a guy’s sanctuary, like the gym is for Isaiah — is able to kind of alleviate the pain for those couple of hours. And there’s no question there’s moments during that time that are hard on him, but I think the other 21 hours are really tough, and we all feel for him. …
“It is a tough situation, and we are here to support him in any which way we can. He knows that. And his family as well. And we have to focus our time on trying to do our jobs as well as we possibly can. All together. And it is tough, it is a challenge, but it is what we’re called to do, and so we need to do it.”
Marcus Smart was fined $25,000 for making an obscene gesture toward a fan during the Celtics’ Game 2 loss, the NBA announced Wednesday.
Boston’s Avery Bradley heard Chicago’s Rajon Rondo suggesting the Celtics gave up in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss, and Bradley didn’t necessarily disagree.
A day after Celtics guard Avery Bradley heard Rajon Rondo suggesting to his Bulls teammates that Boston “gave up” during Game 2, Stevens said the challenge for him is keeping his team upbeat despite an 0-2 hole.
“I can’t sit here and sulk today,” Steven said during an 18-minute conference call. “I can’t sit here, complain, worry or be down. I think the biggest thing we have to do is be forward-looking and prepare for Friday.”
Asked about Rondo’s suggestion that his team might have looked defeated in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss, Stevens suggested it might simply be frustration.
“Sometimes that becomes a function of guys pressing and guys feeling that things aren’t going our way,” Stevens said. “Especially in, again, those [Bulls] runs. The run in the second quarter there, where we had a few opportunities there in transition that we didn’t convert and they ended up getting out from a tied game to a six- or eight-point lead. And then later on in the game, when … we had cut it to one, and they put it back out to 10.
“Just those things, you can definitely see that. And we just have to be able to focus on the next possession better. That’s the bottom line. That’s what we talked about.”
Stevens said he would consider lineup and rotation changes because of the way Chicago has dominated much of the first two games. He’s hoping, though, that his team, fueled by the notion of being an underdog all season, will respond to the situation with its most inspired basketball of the season.
“It’s got to [motivate Boston],” Stevens said. “It has to. That has to happen, and that’s the charge for our team.”