BOSTON — When the Boston Celtics take the floor for Game 1 against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night at TD Garden, one of their star players will be playing with a heavy heart.
Celtics All-StarÂ point guard Isaiah Thomas tragically lost his 22-year-old sister in a single-car crash in Washington early Saturday morning.
Boston head coach Brad Stevens spoke with the media prior to Sunday’s game and provided an update on his star player.
“Heâs struggling,” Stevens said. “Obviously, itâs tragic circumstances that he and his family are going through, and our thoughts are first and foremost with them. Heâs really hurting. Itâs a tough situation.”
One of the strongest attributes of this Celtics team is itsÂ team chemistry. While that has been showcased on the court throughout the season, Stevens explained the team’s togetherness held true following the tragic circumstances.
“Everybody reached out, itâs a close-knit team and heâs a big part of it,” StevensÂ said. “Isaiah is a great teammate, heâs a great husband and heâs a great father. I think ultimately we all just try to do our part and let him know weâre thinking about him. Anything that we can all do to help, we do.”
As far as the game goes, Stevens was unsure what to expect from Thomas. But he explained that in a situation such as this one, life takes precedence over basketball.
“The game will play itself out the way it plays itself out,” StevensÂ said. “Our guys have spent all week preparing really hard and weâre really excited to get a chance to play in the playoffs. But obviously, more important things happen in life. I donât think my job is to separate the two, itâs to be there with the rest of the guys to support Isaiah.”
Not only does Thomas have the support of the entire Celtics organization, but also the city of Boston. Stevens is fully aware of the city’s passion for its teams and their players, and expects Sunday to be an emotional night.
“I donât think thereâs any question people around here have a great affinity for Isaiah,” StevensÂ said. “We can already feel that. I think itâs going to be really emotional, and thatâs what makes this place really special. I think they really appreciate Isaiah and I know Isaiah really appreciates them.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images