Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics
NBA

NBA on Sling: Celtics’ Woes Dwarf All Others

Three road teams won their series opener over the weekend, but two of those teams — Milwaukee and Utah — are the favorites despite being the lower seed, so things went more or less according to plan. But there were three developments that could have a big impact on the week ahead.

The Death of Isaiah Thomas’ Sister

The Celtics’ collective psyche took a big blow just ahead of their playoff opener against the Bulls when word came that All Star guard Isaiah Thomas’ 22-year-old kid sister, Chyna Thomas, had died in a tragic car accident. Head coach Brad Stevens said all the right things about how it was entirely up to Thomas whether to go home to grieve with his family or stay and play. Not surprisingly, Thomas elected to stay and had a game-high 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists, but a seesaw battle finally titled against the Celtics with with 5:16 to play when a Jimmy Butler jumper put the Bulls up for good. As sports fans, we love to bend the narrative to suit the outcome. If the Celtics had won on a Thomas buzz-beater, we’d talk about how Thomas had done it to honor his sister. If C’s had been blown out, we’d talk about how they just couldn’t get their head in the game. A 106-102 loss at home with Thomas lighting up the scoreboard? It’s impossible to quantify what kind of effect a tragedy like this has on a player or a team. While it pales in comparison to the loss of a loved one, the Celtics now find themselves in an 0-1 hole, and have lost home court advantage.

Rudy Gobert’s Knee

Seventeen seconds into the first playoff game of his career, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert banged knees with Luc Mbah a Moute of the Clippers, incurring a hyperextension and bone bruise to his left knee that forced him out of action. Gobert is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate who averaged 14 points, 12.8 rebounds per game, and a league-leading 2.6 blocks per game — he’s kind of key to the Jazz’s defense. An MRI showed no serious damage, but head coach Quin Snyder was totally at a loss as to a timetable for Gobert’s return, saying, “I don’t think we’re ready to say today, tomorrow, a week, two weeks.” But hey, the Jazz managed to pull out a 97-95 win thanks to Joe Johnson, who provided much needed spark — including the game-winner at the buzzer —  with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block in 31 minutes off the bench, so maybe Gobert’s knee isn’t that big a deal. The Jazz are up 1-0 and now have homecourt advantage.

Thunder Getting Blown Out, Westbrook Shoots 6-of-23 With 9 Turnovers

The Thunder headed into this series as underdogs, you knew it, they knew it, everybody knew it. But no one was expecting a 118-87 drubbing at the hands of the Rockets in Game 1. And who could’ve foreseen Russell Westbrook hitting just 6 of 23 from the floor while coughing it up 9 times? Or Victor Oladipo scoring just 6 points while hitting on just 1 of 12? According to ESPN Stats and Information, teams that lose Game 1 by 30+ have gone on to lose the series 22 of the last 23 times. This could still be a fun series, but Game 1 really let the air out of things.

Monday

Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland Cavaliers, Cavs lead series 1-0

7pm ET on TNT

Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs, Spurs lead series 1-0

9:30pm ET on TNT

Tuesday

Chicago Bulls vs Boston Celtics, Bulls lead the series 1-0

8pm ET on TNT

Utah Jazz vs LA Clippers, Jazz lead series 1-0

10:30pm ET on TNT

Wednesday

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets, Rockets lead the series 1-0

8pm ET on TNT

Portland Trail Blazers vs Golden State Warriors, Warriors lead the series 1-0

10:30pm ET on TNT

Thursday

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers, Cavs lead series 1-0

7pm ET on TNT

San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies, Spurs lead series 1-0

9:30pm ET on TNT

Friday

Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls, Bulls lead the series 1-0

7pm ET on ESPN

Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder, Rockets lead the series 1-0

9:30pm ET on ESPN

LA Clippers vs Utah Jazz, Jazz lead series 1-0

10pm ET on ESPN2

Saturday

Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks, Bucks lead series 1-0

3pm ET on TNT

Washington Wizards vs Atlanta Hawks, Wizards leads series 1-0

5:30pm ET on TNT

San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies, Spurs lead series 1-0

8pm ET on ESPN

Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers, Warriors lead the series 1-0

10:30pm ET on ESPN

Sunday

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers, Cavs lead series 1-0

1pm ET on ABC/WatchESPN

Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder, Rockets lead the series 1-0

3:30pm ET on ABC/WatchESPN

Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls, Bulls lead the series 1-0

6:30pm ET on TNT

LA Clippers vs Utah Jazz, Jazz lead series 1-0

9pm ET on TNT

Watch the NBA on TNT by subscribing to Sling, ESPN, ESPN2 and WatchESPN by subscribing to Sling Orange, and on ABC by subscribing to Sling Orange + Broadcast Extra.

All stats courtesy ESPN and Basketball Reference

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