The Raptors and Celtics are scheduled to begin their much anticipated second-round series on Thursday but there is now some question if both teams will take the floor. The Raptors held a team meeting Tuesday morning to discuss a potential response to the Jacob Blake shooting by police in Wisconsin, including the possibility of not playing Game 1 on Thursday night.
“We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. “But I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody.”
The Celtics also confirmed that sitting out is an option they will consider ahead of the game.
“It’s been talked about,” Marcus Smart said. “We aren’t really sure. We haven’t confirmed anything, but it’s definitely something in the back of our minds. It’s something that — something needs to change. Like I said, it’s more important than basketball right now. It’s definitely a thought and we have to talk more with each other and try to get on the same page.”
Blake was shot in the back by police several times while trying to enter his car after police were responding to a domestic disturbance earlier this week. His lawyer said Tuesday that he is paralyzed from the waist down.
Jaylen Brown spoke about his emotions in the wake of a team meeting Tuesday morning about the incident.
"It was hard enough even coming down here, to be honest," Brown said. "But I guess [boycotting is] something you talk about with your team, for sure. We haven't talked about that as the Celtics. But those emotions are real. That is real. Yes, we're athletes. Yes, we're being paid to play a sport that we love. But we are human beings, members of our community. We are fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers, etc. So all those emotions are real, and I don't really have a lot to say.”
Brad Stevens says no one on the Celtics has told him individually that they don’t want to play but it was evident to him that the incident had impacted his team.
"Obviously our thoughts go to Jacob Blake and his family," Stevens said. "And, obviously, that video was horrifying. That video was awful. And to think of three kids being in that car is like ... that just makes you shaken, right? It's ridiculous. ... We've talked about it as a team and just how we feel. We haven't talked about it enough, but obviously everybody is shook.
"There's a reason why the guys, coaches, players, everyone here has chosen to really emphasize social justice and racial equality while we're here. To think that this happens again."
The Celtics are scheduled to play the Raptors in Game 1 on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.