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-Star 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.
“He’s struggling,” Stevens said. “Obviously, it’s tragic circumstances that he and his family are going through, and our thoughts are first and foremost with them. He’s really hurting. It’s a tough situation.”
One of the strongest attributes of this Celtics team is its 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, it’s a close-knit team and he’s a big part of it,” Stevens said. “Isaiah is a great teammate, he’s a great husband and he’s a great father. I think ultimately we all just try to do our part and let him know we’re 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,” Stevens said. “Our guys have spent all week preparing really hard and we’re really excited to get a chance to play in the playoffs. But obviously, more important things happen in life. I don’t think my job is to separate the two, it’s 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 don’t think there’s any question people around here have a great affinity for Isaiah,” Stevens said. “We can already feel that. I think it’s going to be really emotional, and that’s 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