AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Isaiah Thomas has respect for the Atlanta Hawks team.
So when I asked him about the Hawks, Thomas spoke glowingly about Paul Millsap as being a “special player” and Dwight Howard having a huge impact on shot attempts whether he’s blocking them or not.
But he knows all eyes will be on him and Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder, who had some not-so-nice things to say about Thomas following Boston’s 103-101 win at Atlanta on Jan. 13.
The two waged a feisty, highly combative game most of the Jan. 13 game with Thomas getting the better of Schroder in just about every statistical category such as scoring (28 points for Thomas compared to 4 for Schroder), assists (nine to three), and minutes played (36:16 to 22:36).
And then there was the one statistic that mattered most … the win.
But after the game, Schroeer told reporters that Thomas had spoken badly about his mother.
“I’m playing basketball,” Schroder told reporters after the game in January. “If he think that he got to curse at my mom or say some dumb stuff about my family, that has nothing to do with basketball. That’s his choice. I’ve got too much class for that. Next one, we are going to get it.”
The news got back to Thomas who emphatically denied he said anything along those lines.
“I don’t talk about nobody’s mom,” Thomas said when he became aware of Schroder’s comments. “I don’t cuss at anybody’s mom and I don’t talk about people’s family. So whatever he said, that’s a 100 percent lie and he knows that.”
When I asked Thomas about Schroeder following Boston’s 104-98 win at Detroit Sunday night, he had little to say about the Hawks point guard.
“Man I’m past that. I’m not worried about that guy,” Thomas said. “Once he did that the last game, where he tried to damage my character, (saying I was) talking about his parents … I’m past that. Hopefully we can beat the Atlanta Hawks. I’m not even worried about him.”
Schroeder may not be on Thomas’ radar as a major concern, but the players he spoke of earlier – Millsap and Howard – are two players who can have a significant impact on whether the Celtics can continue to build off of the good things they did against the Pistons.
And Atlanta (32-26) will come in extremely thirsty for success having lost their last three games – all by 15 or more points - and four of the last five.
Despite the Hawks recent struggles, the Celtics understand that despite their success this season they are in no position to take any team lightly.
“They’re a good team. They play the game the right way,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “They have some really good players, some really good shooters, really good bigs down low. We have to come out and play harder than them, match their intensity, execute, move the ball, share the ball and have fun.”