The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors did not play Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal on Thursday as NBA players continued to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, though they have agreed to resume the postseason.

The game was scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m. The league hopes to resume the playoffs Friday or Saturday.

The Celtics and Raptors engaged in extensive discussions together about whether they wanted to play, meeting Tuesday night to talk about next steps. The Milwaukee Bucks accelerated the process on Wednesday when they refused to take the court for Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic. Shortly afterward, the rest of the teams slated to play Wednesday went on strike as well.

On Thursday, players had another meeting and agreed to resume play, citing a sense of normalcy returning with families joining the bubble.

Before the Bucks sat out, Jayson Tatum said the situation was difficult for everyone.

“We’re in a bubble. We can’t leave,” he said. “As much as we’d love to go back to our communities and stand with our people, we’re in this bubble and kind of isolated from everybody else, and I think that’s very frustrating. A lot of players have voiced that. I know some guys have talked about going home to be there instead of being isolated.”

Tatum added that many things presently happening are bigger than basketball.

“How many points we score, that (expletive) don’t matter right now,” Tatum said. “Being a Black man in America is more important than what I’m doing out there on a basketball court. Using my platform, my voice to help create conversations and change is more important than anything I can do out there.

You think about a man getting shot in his back seven times with his kids in the car is way more important than anything I can do out there on the floor. Just knowing his (three) kids are going to be traumatized for the rest of their life seeing their dad get shot for no reasons, I couldn’t even imagine how that’s going to affect them the rest of their life.”

The Celtics posted a message on their Twitter feed entitled, “Justice For Jacob.” The message included the names of the Kenosha mayor and district attorney with email addresses and phone numbers, plus contact information for the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Bill Russell, who won 11 championships with the Celtics in the 1950s and 1960s, has long fought racial inequality. He tweeted his support of the players and also Kenny Smith, who walked off the TNT set Wednesday night in sport of the boycott.

“I’m moved by all the @NBA players for standing up for what is right,” tweeted Russell. “To my man (Kenny Smith), I would like to say thank you for what you did to show your support for the players. I am so proud of you. Keep getting in good trouble.”

Celtics rookie Grant Williams said on Wednesday that players don’t want things to become “stagnant” in the bid to raise awareness for injustice.

“We understand the change can’t happen overnight,” said Williams. “It’s systemic, something that’s been in our system for 400 years. In order for us to take one step at a time, we also can’t allow something to be stagnant.

“That’s what we felt that it was. We’re on the television instead of people who are dying and the people who are crying for their loved ones. We can’t have something be stagnant.”

Williams said players have been upset all week after watching the video of Blake being shot.

“Yes, we’re playing basketball and that’s supposed to be our sanctity, but we’re over here, guys are crying,” said Williams. “Guys are hurting right now because of what’s going on. You never know if that’s your brother, my cousin. That’s something that weighs down on you. It’s very trying to the mind.”

The boycott that took place Wednesday has led to plenty of discussion, and Williams hopes even more can be done.

“All we can hope to try to do is impact change,” he said. “That’s something that we’ve always strived for. We started with the kneeling. We were hoping that would send a message. It sent a message, but then as that message gets pushed, they stopped showing us (kneeling for the anthem on television).

“Now it’s about what can we do next to not only show that we’re involved and that we really care. It saddens us that nothing’s changing.

“We all understand if we’re not playing what are we doing to show and help what’s going on outside this bubble. We understand how important our platforms are to people who look up to us.”


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