Isaiah Thomas spent two days at home with his family this week, grieving the loss of his younger sister, Chyna, who was killed in a car accident on Saturday morning. Thomas re-joined the Celtics on Thursday in Chicago ahead of their Game 3 matchup with the Bulls on Friday in must-win territory down 0-2.
Thomas might not have been with the team, but according to Jae Crowder, the message he left with the team before he flew home was very clear, as he told to USA Today’s Michael Singer.
“He said, out of his mouth, to us as a unit, I’m going to be with my family, and I’ll be ready for Game 3,” Crowder said. “And the best thing you can do for me is look in the mirror and see what you can do to help our team get a win. Everybody in the world is probably sending him text messages and all that, I’m sorry, and he’s probably tired of hearing that, you know? He probably just wants to play and wants to get a win very badly.”
For a Celtics team that has looked disjointed in the first two games of this series, a rallying cry from Thomas, who is playing through immense heartbreak, might be what they need to come together and refocus. With Rajon Rondo’s thumb injury, the Bulls are suddenly without many answers at point guard, and the Celtics can take advantage. Thomas has excelled in this series when not guarded by Rondo, and now he won’t have to worry about facing the savvy veteran who has shut him down so far for at least a few games.
Thomas released his first public statement on Wednesday, but his private statement to his teammates was even more powerful. The Bulls being down a key piece will help the Celtics on Friday night, but they might not need it after a strong message from their leader and point guard.