With a little more than a minute remaining in the Boston Celtics’ Game 6, series-clinching win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, grieving Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got up from the bench and ran toward coach Brad Stevens, who immediately ushered him back to the visiting locker room.
Thomas, according to Stevens, was headed home to Tacoma, Wash., for his sister’s funeral. Chyna was killed in a single-car accident on April 15. Thomas, who flew home to be with family after the Celtics’ Game 2 loss, played in every game of the series. He told his teammates he’ll be ready come Game 1.
After Friday’s win, Stevens said he was proud of his team’s composure throughout the series.
“Bigger things than basketball happened, and that took precedent,” Stevens said. “Tomorrow’s a lot more important than Sunday (Game 1). If it’s difficult, it’s difficult, but it’s just a basketball game. And if he decides when he gets there that it’s too much, that’s OK. That’s fine. This is a lot more important.
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The Celtics will face the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of the second round on Sunday in Boston.
Fellow Celtics guard and longtime friend Avery Bradley said he wanted to attend the funeral as well.
“I don’t know (how he was able to play),” Bradley said following the Celtics’ Game 6 victory over the Bulls. “It’s truly amazing. I know it’s hard. I’ve been there before. You just want to be by yourself. As brothers, we wanted to be there for him every single day and let him know that we were going to support him.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Michael Singer on Twitter @msinger.