BOSTON - If you caught any of Game 3 between the Celtics and Hawks, you undoubtedly saw some pushing and shoving going on.
You may have also caught a flagrant foul or two . . . or three.
It's to be expected that with the stakes so high, emotions will run high. That's what's been going on between the C's and Hawks and it can be expected to last throughout the series.
But the Celtics dodged a bullet when it was announced that Isaiah Thomas wouldn't be suspended for Game 4 after footage of him came out making contact with Hawks guard Dennis Schroder with a bit of a swinging motion. That's not to say Thomas should have been suspended for it, but you just never know these days in the NBA.
The C's want to remain physical and emotional, but Brad Stevens has made it clear with his team that they can only go so far.
“Yeah. I think we talk about, all the time about not wanting to cross that line," Stevens said. "And at the same time it’s going to be physical and competitive because you watch every playoff series, that’s what they are. You’re playing a team for the fifth time in two weeks. They’re used to us, we’re used to them. It’s prideful people on both sides of the floor, really good players. There’s gonna be some of that. But obviously you don’t want it to cross the line. That’s something that certainly we’ve addressed. And we’re not going to spend a ton of time on it, and I’m sure they aren’t either. We’ve got to focus on what we can do to play well.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer addressed the physicality in the series, specifically the incident with Thomas.
"The playoffs, always, there’s an edge and there’s a competitiveness that comes with it, so I think all that’s to be expected," Budenholzer said. "The NBA always does a thorough job. Their job is not easy and they cannot make everybody happy, and we also have a ton of respect for their process, their work and their integrity. We can all see things differently and we’re ready to move forward."