CLEVELAND -- Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas will consult with specialists starting Monday to determine the best path to rehabilitate his injured right hip, with one option being offseason surgery.
The Celtics announced Saturday that Thomas will not play again this postseason after aggravating a hip ailment. Before Sunday's 111-108 Game 3 Eastern Conference finals win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thomas' coach and teammates marveled at how he played through so much pain to get the Celtics this far.
"There were times where you could see he was really struggling but probably nothing like the other night," head coach Brad Stevens said of Thomas, who sat out the second half of Boston's lopsided Game 2 loss on Friday. "I thought the first half he was really hurting, really didn't have any bounce, didn't have any push. And it's one of those things where, being around him for the last couple of years, I mean, he wants to play through any and all circumstances.
"So, supposedly when we went back on the court on Friday night, he was all over the doctors with eight minutes left in the third in a 40-point game to come back out. But the bottom line was he didn't have his burst. He doesn't have his bounce off of it. He doesn't have his push off it. He's going to see some specialists over the next few days starting [Monday] and determine the next course of action."
Stevens said Thomas had been able to manage the pain in the final month of the regular season and early in the playoffs, but he was clearly ailing by the end of a second-round series against the Wizards. Stevens said he was surprised that Thomas was able to play in Game 7.
After enduring the tragic loss of his sister on the eve of Boston's playoff opener in April, then having his teeth damaged in the opening game of the Wizards series, Stevens marveled at how Thomas soldiered on.
"I think we all draw inspiration from his presence, knowing what he's going through," Stevens said.
Celtics guard Gerald Green, one of Thomas' closest friends on the team, said Thomas was still distraught that he couldn't be with the team in Cleveland, even after the Cavaliers dominated the first two games of the series.
"I talked to him. He's pissed off that he's not playing," Green said. "It just kinda sucks that he went out the way he went out, as far as not being able to play in [this series], the way he's playing so good. We made it this far only because of him."
Green said Thomas never let on too much about his pain but said it became obvious at the end of the Wizards series.
Avery Bradley said he wants Thomas to simply get healthy again.
"We just want to see him healthy. He's helped us out so much this year and I know he wants to be here to continue to help us. He has to make sure that he's healthy," Bradley said. "it's more than just basketball. I just want him to be able to be healthy, walk properly. It has to be painful for him."
Bradley said Celtics players didn't learn that Thomas would be out until they gathered before flying to Cleveland on Saturday. Bradley sees it as a chance for others to step up on a big stage.
"It just means that it gives other players opportunities to go out there and try to make plays for our team," said Bradley. "I think it gives players like Terry [Rozier] a chance to come into a new role, in the playoffs. I think they're all looking forward to it. As a team, we are missing a great piece to our team. This is a great opportunity for us to go out there and prove that we're going to play hard no matter what and we're still going to give ourselves a chance to win every single game."
Stevens said he wasn't certain who would start Game 3, but he expected Marcus Smart to take Thomas' point guard role, and he was leaning toward reinserting center Amir Johnson after going small with swingman Green in Game 2.
"We don't need any one person to become Isaiah from a scoring standpoint overnight," said Stevens. "We just need to all play a little better in our role and make up for his points otherwise."
Stevens said Thomas will remain a part of the team despite not traveling to Cleveland.
"He'll be a part of the group thanks to technology. He'll probably text, FaceTime, and call more than anybody can imagine," said Stevens. "But I think, ultimately, we've got to get him to see whoever he needs to see to make the next right decision."
Cavaliers star LeBron James praised Thomas but said Cleveland's game plan won't change moving forward.
"We hate that Isaiah got hurt," said James. "Salute to him on an unbelievable season. What he was able to accomplish this year and the things that he did in the postseason, under the circumstances with the tragic death of his sister. But for us as a unit, it's never been about one guy. That's not our focus. It's always been about team effort and how we can put out the best game plan to go against their team. And they're still well-coached. They still got players out there that are going to look for the challenge and are going to step up their play, so we have to be ready for that."