Somehow, in spite of the larger reality, Thomas made a positive 12-point impact on his team when he was in the game, which is to say that the Celtics were outscored by 16 points to Chicago when Thomas was on the bench. His final absence coincided with the emergence of Butler, the Bulls’ All-Star who scored 23 points in his final 10:10 – a run that began in the final 88 seconds of the third quarter while Thomas was gathering himself for the fourth.
“We’ve got to be great in those eight to 10 minutes that he doesn’t play,” acknowledged Stevens.
What lays ahead for Thomas? The two answers to that question are twisted together as well. For Thomas there will be questions that cannot be answered and pain that defies the compassion and concern he feels from all who care for him. For the Celtics, there will be Game 2 on Tuesday.
“Whatever he needs to do, he needs to do, and we’ll help in any way,” said Stevens. “If he needs to and wants to stay here, then we’ll be here surrounding him. And if he wants to go to Seattle, then he should go to Seattle. It’s his call, and should be.”
There will be no deadline to his scheduling.
“Not going to ask him, or make him make those decisions,” Stevens said. “Those have got to come on his own time, and then we’ll adjust accordingly.”
“We’re never going to make excuses,” said Horford. “But this is hard. This was difficult, and I felt like our guys really dealt with it in the right way. Isaiah is the one that I felt like dealt with it best. We knew he was hurting, it’s not easy, and we have a lot of respect for him that he was able to come out. It’s not an easy task, but he didn’t make excuses and we didn’t either. We really tried to come out here and focus on the game.”
And then they realized, as they embraced their teammate who had done everything he could to win it, that losing this game was not the end of the world.
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A day after sister’s death, Boston Celtics rally around Isaiah Thomas – NBA.com