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Stevens: Thomas 'intention to play' after sister's death

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Isaiah Thomas’ Boston Celtics are set to play the Chicago Bulls in their first playoff game on Sunday in Boston

An unnamed source told the Herald that "it's not just relevant" whether Thomas plays.

The challenge for the Celtics now is to push forward in this series while trying to support Thomas.

The rebounding-deficient Celtics figured to take a pounding on the glass, and the Bulls certainly obliged, out-boarding the C's by a 53-36 margin and scoring 23 second chance points.

The Chicago Bulls slide into the playoffs on the last game of the season.

For Thomas, the day was bigger than basketball, bigger than the postseason.

At one point during the Celtics' pregame shootaround, Thomas lowered himself into a courtside seat, put his head in the crook of one arm and cried. More telling, the Celtics floundered without him on the floor - Thomas was plus-12 for the game.

"To win a series, we're going to have to", Wade said.

"It has to be guys that make timely shots and then have big games like tonight". For us, we are not taking it for granted, and we need to really pull through at this time. Remarkable he played so well.

"He was incredible", Brad Stevens says of Isaiah Thomas.

He said Thomas has freedom to do "whatever he needs to do" as related to his sister and family. "It's whatever is right for him". "You look out there at their size, so you've got to hit them early and don't let them get into the paint on their cuts, when they're cutting to the basket to get a rebound", Stevens said.

"Not going to ask him, or make him make those decisions", Stevens said.

Thomas, 28, had spoken Friday about how excited he was for the playoffs. Throughout the day, he was heaped with attention, his private grief spilling into public view.

"Thank you Charles Barkley for letting us know that it's about YOUR selfish comfort regarding isiah Thomas playing, not his." wrote @_bigchee. During the pregame show on TNT, the cameras caught Thomas and Avery Bradley sitting alongside each other in the first row of the stands. The Celtics rank #15 in points allowed per game and #13 in defensive rating.

"We're all praying for him, the National Basketball Association family's behind him", Durant said. "But that's always tough to go through". Some were searching for what to do for Thomas - what to say to him - a very normal reaction for any person, especially a young one, at such an unthinkable time.

The 95-87 lead was the largest of the game for either team and was just enough for Chicago to hang on and take the opener. Butler scored 10 straight points to put the Bulls back in front early in the fourth, the first of three lead changes in the fourth quarter.

"I don't think there's any question people have a great affinity for him". The Bulls come in at the eight spot with a +0.7 point differential and a surprisingly good record against +.500 teams (2-2 against Boston).

Golden State's Kevin Durant talked about Thomas after the Warriors' Game 1 victory over Portland. But they would not hold it.

Beverley scored a playoff career-high 21 points and added 10 rebounds, steering the ship until Harden got untracked. Thomas told Chillious via text Saturday that he was "being strong for the whole family" and wanted to play the following evening in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Bulls.

Who could blame him?

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