BOSTON (CBS) — As his Celtics teammates prepare for their upcoming playoff series against the Washington Wizards, Isaiah Thomas be home in Tacoma, Washington, to say a final goodbye to his younger sister.
Saturday is the funeral of Thomas’ sister, Chyna, who was killed in a car accident on April 15, one day before Boston’s playoff series against the Chicago Bulls tipped off.
“Tomorrow is a lot more important than Sunday,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Friday night’s series-clinching win in Chicago.
Thomas did not miss a single game in Boston’s first-round series against the Bulls, traveling home to be with family when the series shifted from Boston to Chicago last week. Even with the loss of his sister on his mind, Thomas averaged 23 points over six games, and capped the series off with 12 points, five rebounds and six assists on Friday night. He had his usual glowing smile as the C’s blew out the Bulls 105-83 to advance to the next round.
The last two weeks have been difficult on Thomas, and it isn’t going to get much easier. After celebrating a life that was cut too short, Thomas will fly back to Boston for Sunday afternoon’s Game 1 against the Wizards. Thomas’ teammates continue to be amazed by his poise and focus on the floor after the tragedy, and will continue to support him as much as they can.
“He’s going to have a busy 24 hours,” said Boston forward Jae Crowder. “He’s shown he can overcome a lot. We’re his family, he’s going to be with his family, so I think he’ll be able to bounce back. But we know he’s going through a lot. He wants us to prepare, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to prepare, and when he gets back he said he’ll be ready to go.”
“It’s really hard. It says a lot about him,” said guard Avery Bradley, who added that Thomas was there to support him when he lost his mom two years ago. “I feel like he’s handling it as best as anyone could. We’ve been trying to be there for him. That’s the best way to treat a situation like this.”
Stevens has no doubt Thomas will be ready to go when he returns to Boston.
“He’ll be ready to play,” Stevens said of Sunday’s Game 1. “And if he decides when he gets there it’s too much, that’s OK. That’s fine. This is a lot more important.”