Grieving Isaiah Thomas plans to play tonight
Isaiah Thomas intends to play in Game 2 against Chicago tonight, and then fly to Seattle for a memorial service honoring his late sister, Chyna, who died in a car crash early Saturday morning.
Though it’s possible that several members of the team, including good friend and fellow Tacoma, Wash., native Avery Bradley, will also be on hand for the service, Brad Stevens said the team will take its cue from Thomas. Funeral plans remain incomplete.
The Celtics coach added that Thomas plans to return to the team on time for Game 3 in Chicago on Friday night.
“His plan, as of right now, and again subject to him changing if he wants, is that he’ll be here tomorrow night and then will go to Tacoma after,” Stevens said. “So either after the game tomorrow night or Wednesday morning (he’ll travel).
“They haven’t finalized the memorial service plans or funeral plans. They’re still working on that as a family. If that time comes, when that time comes, when they solidify those plans, obviously we hope to be able to go.”
Of Bradley joining Thomas in Tacoma, Stevens said, “I think that’s really important. Avery obviously being from Tacoma and knowing Isaiah and his family for a long time. I think that’s been a big deal for Isaiah.”
Thomas, who spent several minutes talking with Stevens at midcourt following practice, again chose not to speak to the media.
And as long as Thomas remains relatively subdued while grieving the death of his sister, his teammates realize it’s their time to pick up the emotional slack.
“We have to pick our leadership up — pick the team spirit up a little bit,” said Jae Crowder. “Starting today with the walkthrough today, keep our spirits high because he’s not going to be himself. I just think us leaders – Avery, myself, Al (Horford) — have to pick the team’s spirits up as a group.”
Crowder also agreed with the suggestion that the team may have been swayed by the emotion of Game 1, and Thomas’ decision to play in front of a wildly supportive crowd — at least until the team hurtled toward a loss in the second half.
“I think so, it’s part of it,” Crowder said of getting caught up in the moment. “We have no control over it. It’s a weird time to happen, but I have no doubt in my teammates, I have trust in them, and we have to bounce back.”
Crowder: My bad
Crowder, who fell into early foul trouble in Game 1, squarely pointed a finger at himself yesterday, and vowed to cut back on cheap fouls.
“I have to do a better job of that. I watched film on it,” he said. “A couple of ticky-tack fouls that I have to stay away from. Still have to come out aggressive and stay up on guys and make them feel it, but those fouls in the first half I have to stay away from.”
Crowder’s temporary absence forced Stevens to alter his bench rotation in the second half. Starters like Crowder and Horford are often mixed in with the reserves to help prop up the often offensively starved second unit.
“We’re trying to figure it out,” Crowder said. “The playoffs are about adjustments, and Brad has done a great job of trying to figure it out on the fly. Me putting the team in foul trouble didn’t help that at all. We had to go with a different lineup than usual, but that’s about trying to figure it out.”
Dwyane Wade’s missed dunk Sunday — the 35-year-old guard drove from midcourt and jammed the ball off the bottom of the rim — had most in the Garden either wincing in sympathy or laughing at their longtime Heat nemesis.
Wade, though, took the whole ordeal in stride.
“It’s cool. It’s an honor to be on ‘Shaqtin’ a Fool,’ ” he said after the Bulls’ practice at Emerson College. “Tell him I’m 35. I had a flashback in my mind. It just didn’t work the way it was planned.”
Sunday’s wild card was a 19-point, nine-rebound performance off the bench by Bulls power forward Bobby Portis.
“We can’t let him go off for 19 and nine rebounds and try to win the game,” Crowder said. “We’re much more aware of what he can bring to the table now. We have a slight adjustment on him, can’t happen Game 2.”