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Celtics' Isaiah Thomas dealing with tough times, travel before Game 1 vs. Wizards

Celtics' Isaiah Thomas dealing with tough times, travel before Game 1 vs. Wizards

The unfortunate situation involving a death in the family for Celtics star point guard Isaiah Thomas continues, as following Boston's series clinching win over the Bulls on Friday night Thomas flew back to the state of Washington for the funeral of his late sister, Chyna.

Thomas will then have to fly all the back across the country to Boston for Game 1 on Sunday, which happens to be a very early start at 1 p.m. Thomas has already been dealing with unimaginable pain and emotion. Now he will have a very difficult travel schedule on top of it.

“Tomorrow is a lot more important than Sunday,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said, according to CSNNE. “It’s difficult (turnaround), but it’s a basketball game. He’ll be ready to play. And if he decides when he gets there it’s too much, that’s OK. That’s fine. This (being with his family) is a lot more important.”

[RELATED: Wall may have played the best game for a Wizards player in generations]

As Stevens says, Thomas is not going to miss any games. But this is clearly a very tough time for him.

Chyna died in a car accident on April 15, just one day before the Celtics began their playoff run against the Chicago Bulls. Thomas appeared in all six games of the Celtics-Bulls playoff series, but was fighting back tears before Game 1 and last week said that "mentally and emotionally, I'm not here."

The Wizards and Celtics having to pick back up so quickly after their Game 6 victories on Friday is not ideal for either team. But for Thomas, it's particularly challenging.

[RELATED: Keys to look for in Wizards-Celtics semifinal series]

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Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating piriformis injury

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USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating piriformis injury

While down big against the Blazers on Sunday night, matters got even worse for the Washington Wizards as starting center Dwight Howard exited the game after aggravating his piriformis muscle injury.

Howard initially left the game midway through the second quarter due to foul trouble. Soon after, he went to the locker room with a trainer to get treatment. Howard was clearly frustrated as he walked through the tunnel.

Howard, 32, missed the first seven games of the season due to the injury, a strained piriformis muscle. He was sidelined for all of training camp and the preseason.

The piriformis muscle is located just below the back. Howard has battled discomfort while running, jumping and even sitting while dealing with the injury.

Even when he returned, he told reporters the pain had not completely subsided.

Howard left Sunday's game with two points and three rebounds in seven minutes.

More on this story as it develops...

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Schedule heats up

The Wizards really needed that one on Friday night. Though the Nets, even without Caris LeVert, aren't an easy out, the Wizards wanted to fully take advantage of a soft spot of their schedule. It's tough to lose to the Nets when you consider the road ahead.

The Wizards play seven straight games against teams at .500 or better. That includes a road game against the Raptors, who are tied for the league's best record. They also see the Rockets, the Pelicans twice and play at the Sixers. It all begins Sunday against the Blazers, who are tied for the fourth-best record in the NBA.

Rematch

Most of the Wizards' games this season have been lopsided one way or the other, and usually in the direction they would not prefer. But they have played a few close games and their most entertaining one happened to come against this same Blazers team.

The Wizards and Blazers went to overtime on Oct. 22 in Portland. The Wizards forced the extra period thanks to a three by Bradley Beal, and they won thanks to Otto Porter Jr. blocking Damian Lillard's shot in the closing seconds. 

The Wizards and Blazers have played some classics in recent years. Markieff Morris beat them with a game-winning three two years ago and last season Beal dropped 50 at the Moda Center. The matchup between both teams' star guards seems to bring the best out in everyone.

Howard vs. Nurkic

Much of the focus in this matchup is always on John Wall and Beal vs. Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but there will be a lot of action in the paint with Dwight Howard going up against Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers are one of the best rebounding teams in the game and Nurkic, who pulls in 10.7 per game, is a big reason why. Nurkic also averages 15.5 points.

Howard is coming off his best game as a Wizard. He had 25 points and 17 rebounds against the Nets on Friday night. He was hurt when the teams first met in Portland.

Both are bruisers around the rim who don't stretch the floor with outside shots. It should be a physical battle on Sunday night.