From left, Celtics Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Isaiah Thomas leave the floor following their 106-102 loss to the Bulls in Game 1 of their first round playoff series.</p>
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Isaiah Thomas wasn’t even a definite to play when Celtics coach Brad Stevens addressed reporters an hour before Game 1 of their first round playoff series against the Bulls.

“I think his intention is to play,” Stevens said.

Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics ties his shoes, with messages dedicated to his late sister, Chyna Thomas, who was killed in a car accident on Saturday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics ties his shoes, with messages dedicated to his late sister, Chyna Thomas, who was killed in a car accident on Saturday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Isaiah Thomas wasn’t even a definite to play when Celtics coach Brad Stevens addressed reporters an hour before Game 1 of their first round playoff series against the Bulls.

“I think his intention is to play,” Stevens said.

By warmups, it was clear that Thomas would take the floor for the most emotional night of his life. The question was if his teammates would join him.

They didn’t.

With the Bulls dominating the boards and the Celtics struggling to find scoring options beyond Thomas and center Al Horford, the Bulls claimed Game 1 of their first-round playoff series with a convincing 106-102 victory.

Thomas played with a heavy heart following the death of his 22-year-old sister Chyna in a single-car crash early Saturday morning in Washington state, but he still managed 33 points, five rebounds, and six assists.

During pregame introductions, he was the last player announced to a deafening roar. Instead of his usual buoyant energy, he slowly walked to the huddle with teammates, who surrounded him in what amount to a group hug.

Thomas came out of the gate on fire, scoring 13 in the first quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers that helped the Celtics open a six-point lead.

But the Bulls showed up to win, and they took it to the Celtics by exploiting their biggest weakness and dominating the one facet of the game Thomas couldn’t control — the boards.

Chicago outrebounded the Celtics 32-20 in the first half and 53-36 overall. Among their tally were 20 offensive rebounds, which provided countless second-chance opportunities.

The Bulls led 48-46 at halftime after Al Horford’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The squads were tied at 74 entering the fourth, but Bulls star Jimmy Butler took over, and too many Celtics possessions ended with Marcus Smart misfiring on 3-pointers.

Thomas did his part with 13 points in the frame, but Butler was a beast on both ends, scoring 15 points, including the clinching free throws, and helping swallow up the Celtics on the perimeter and force someone other than Thomas to beat them. Virtually no one stepped forward.

Horford (19 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists) did his part, but the only other Celtic in double figures was Avery Bradley (14).

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Just a quick halftime update, with the Celtics trailing the Bulls 48-46 at halftime of Game 1 of their playoff series.

Just a quick halftime update, with the Celtics trailing the Bulls 48-46 at halftime of Game 1 of their playoff series.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) gets a hug from guard Avery Bradley (0) after hitting a shot against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) gets a hug from guard Avery Bradley (0) after hitting a shot against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Just a quick halftime update, with the Celtics trailing the Bulls 48-46 at halftime of Game 1 of their playoff series.

All eyes were on star guard Isaiah Thomas during warmups and introductions. Playing through grief after his younger sister, Chyna, was killed in a one-car crash on Saturday morning in Washington, Thomas came out on fire, scoring 13 points in the first quarter and 15 in the first half.

Unfortunately, his teammates haven’t picked up their end of the bargain, particularly on the boards, where they’ve been outrebounded 32-20 while allowing 16 offensive rebounds.

Al Horford nailed a 3-pointer at the first half buzzer to pull the Celtics within two.

The play of the second unit has been particularly galling, with Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk a combined 1-for-8.

Robin Lopez leads the eighth-seeded Bulls with 12 points and eight rebounds, including seven offensive.

The Celtics will need to clamp down on the second-chance opportunities or they’ll have surrendered homecourt advantage. Jae Crowder played only 10 minutes in the half because he has three fouls, and he should help provide some toughness on Bulls star Jimmy Butler in the second half.

But as with the start of the game, all eyes will be on Thomas, who is 5-for-10 from the floor, including 2-for-5 on 3-pointers.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Instead of talking x’s and o’s and his game plan for the Bulls in Game 1 of the playoffs, Celtics coach Brad Stevens spent time updating the media on the status of Isaiah Thomas. 

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Instead of talking x’s and o’s and his game plan for the Bulls in Game 1 of the playoffs, Celtics coach Brad Stevens spent time updating the media on the status of Isaiah Thomas. 

In the wake of the tragic passing of Thomas’ sister Chyna J. Thomas, Stevens couldn’t confirm if Thomas will play in the opening matchup of the Celtics’ seven-game series against the Bulls but did say Thomas’ initial intention is to take the floor.

“He went through our shootaround. He’s struggling,” Stevens said. “Obviously it’s tragic circumstances that he and his family are going through right now. Our thoughts are first and foremost with all of them. I think his intention is to play. We talked a little bit last night and then again today. As he goes through it and feels like he needs to not [play] then that’s whatever he wants. One of the things that I’ve learned having been through situations in the past is that there’s really no right or wrong answer — it’s whatever’s right for him. That’s what we’ve encouraged him. He’s really hurting. It’s a tough situation.”

Stevens said every member of the Celtics team has reached out to Thomas within the past 24 hours and spent time talking about Thomas’ character and what he means to the team. 

“Everybody reached out, it’s a close-knit team, he’s a big part of it” Stevens said. “Isaiah is a great teammate, Isaiah’s a great husband, he’s a great father. He is a great guy, great son and brother and I think ultimately we just all tried to do our part and let him know we’re thinking about him. Anything that we can all do to help; we do. We’re family and this particular situation with his family takes precedent over everything else going on and we’re here for him if he needs us.”

How do you keep your team engaged and focused on facing the Bulls?

“I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that. The game will play itself out the way the game plays itself out,” Stevens said. “Our guys have spent all week preparing really hard, and are really excited for a chance to play in the playoffs and at the same time obviously more important things happen in life. I don’t think my job necessarily is to separate the two — my job is to be there with the rest of the guys to support Isaiah.”

Lastly, Stevens reiterated the importance of seeing his team rally together to show their support for Thomas through this tough time and to be great teammates by going out and competing at a high level in Game 1. 

“In our role, we’re gonna all do our job as well as we possibly can — first and foremost and we’re going to be supportive,” Stevens said. “Part of being supportive for him is putting our best foot forward and letting him know that whatever his emotions are at that time, it’s OK to let them out. I don’t know if there’s a script for this, I don’t know if there’s a script for the emotions that somebody is suppose to show. I think that ultimately however you feel, is the way you feel. We’re here as a support, part of our support is to be great teammates and great teammates get ready to compete together and compete for each other.”

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Chyna J. Thomas, the 22-year-old sister of Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, was killed in a one-car crash early Saturday morning on Interstate-5 in Federal Way, Wash.

Chyna J. Thomas, the 22-year-old sister of Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, was killed in a one-car crash early Saturday morning on Interstate-5 in Federal Way, Wash.

According to multiple reports, the accident occurred at approximately 5 a.m. Per Washington State Police, Thomas’ 1998 Toyota Camry drifted off and into a Jersey barrier. The barrier resided approximately 50 feet off the road

It was also reported that she was not wearing her seat belt.

For more on the tragedy, click here.

Blog Author: 
WEEI