It has been a terrible week for #isaiah thomas, who learned that his sister passed away a day before the Boston Celtics’ post-season opener against the #Chicago Bulls. Although Thomas played in the first two playoff games, his body language clearly showed how devastated and broken the one-time All-Star was. His teammates looked deflated and seemed mentally checked out as well. The entire situation has taken its toll on the Celtics, as they trail 0-2 in the series to the eighth-seeded Bulls.
Isaiah Thomas’ statement
On Wednesday afternoon, Thomas broke the silence after his sister’s death with a heartfelt statement:.
“I never could have imagined a day where my little sister, Chyna, wouldn’t be here. She and my family are everything to me, so the pain I am feeling right now is impossible to put into words. This has been without question the hardest week of my life. At the same time, I have been overwhelmed by the love and support that I have received and couldn’t be more thankful for my friends, family, fans, the City of Boston, Celtics organization, and NBA community."
Thomas thanked the public for respecting his privacy and supporting him through this tough time while he grieves with his family at home in Seattle.
His availability for Game 3
Currently, Thomas is in Seattle with his family, grieving the loss of his sister. He traveled to Seattle immediately after Game 2 but is expected to re-join the Celtics in Chicago on Thursday to prepare for #Game 3, which is on Friday.
Thomas is fully expected to play in the team’s next game and hopefully he gains the strength to help the Celtics bounce back from two disappointing losses at home.
Thomas’ overall numbers haven’t been affected too much in the post-season by this tragedy, as he is averaging 26.5 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 40 minutes per game. Now it’s just a mental game for Thomas and the Celtics.
Although this can be used as an excuse for Boston’s struggles, the Chicago Bulls deserve plenty of credit for completely destroying the Celtics on the boards, which has played a major role in their first two wins. The team has come together at the perfect time, and they have the chance to make NBA history by becoming the only eighth seed to sweep a first seed in the playoffs.
What the Celtics must do to bounce back
It’s going to be difficult for the Celtics to recover from this deep hole they’ve put themselves in.
First and foremost, they must fix the rebounding issues. They have to box out better and rebound as a team, and have all five guys run after defensive rebounds to help Al Horford and Amir Johnson.
Next, the Celtics may consider shuffling their rotation a bit. Jonas Jerebko is a hustle guy, who would provide defensive energy but has played a total of four minutes. To no one’s surprise, the veteran was a plus-five in those four minutes. A heavy dose of Jerebko might be exactly what Boston needs.
Lastly, the Celtics have to realize that not much defense is required on Rajon Rondo around the perimeter. They will have to play off of Rondo to apply more pressure to Jimmy Butler and the rebounding battle down low. If the Celtics make these adjustments, they may have a good chance of recapturing momentum and home-court advantage.
Game 3 will be at the United Center in Chicago on Friday at 7 pm Eastern Time and will be nationally televised on ESPN.