Celtics

Good news for C's: Thomas avoids suspension

Good news for C's: Thomas avoids suspension

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics got a bit of good news on Saturday with the NBA deciding to not suspend Isaiah Thomas for his first quarter run-in with Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder in Boston’s 111-103 Game 3 win on Friday night.

“It was the right call,” said Thomas, who had a career-high 42 points in the victory. “I’m really focused on Game 4, but I’m glad I wasn’t suspended.”

The Hawks lead the series, 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday at TD Garden.

Even after seeing the replay, Thomas said he remained confident that he would not face any significant disciplinary action from the league that would cost him court time.

After reviewing the play, the NBA announced that he would be assessed a flagrant-one penalty for the incident.

“I knew what I did,” said Thomas who added that he had not spoken with any league officials regarding the incident. “A slower version would like I looked at him and tried to hit him. If I tried to hit somebody I would have hit them.”

Thomas said he got the news that he would not be suspended from Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations. 

Replays showed Thomas connecting with Schroder’s head while running up the court. It wasn’t clear if the league would view the contact Thomas made with Schroder as him throwing a punch which would have likely landed him a one-game suspension.

Instead, the league will assess Thomas a flagrant-one penalty for the incident, which came moments before each player was hit with a technical foul after Schroder fouled Thomas.

After the play, Thomas had to be restrained by teammate Jared Sullinger.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens wasn’t overly concerned about the incident, either.

“I’m just preparing for whatever you need to prepare for, for the next day,” Stevens said. “I didn’t know exactly what direction would be taken. Obviously, they made their decision and we’re happy he’s available tomorrow. There’s no doubt about that.”

Schroeder, who had 20 points off the bench for the Hawks in Game 3, was trying to put the incident behind him.

But prior to the announcement that Thomas would not be suspended, it was quite apparent that it was still weighing heavily on his mind.

“I just try to focus on the game tomorrow,” Schroeder said. “I felt bad last night, Tweeted stuff and thought about it. I tried to get over it, and try to win tomorrow.

Schroeder deleted his tweet regarding the incident shortly after posting it, adding that the decision to get rid of it was his.

“I still feel disrespected by what he did,” Schroeder said. “I’m still trying to win the game tomorrow and focus on that.”

Round 2, here come the Celtics

Round 2, here come the Celtics

INDIANAPOLIS -- As fans made their way into BankersLife Field House, some came wearing summery shirts with flamingos and palm trees.

It would be in many ways a sign of what was to come as the Boston Celtics sent the Pacers vacationing for the summer with a 110-106 win.

The Celtics swept the first-round series against the Pacers, becoming the first team this season to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

And by doing it in just four games, this Celtics team became only the sixth in franchise history to pull off a sweep in a best-of-seven series, and the first under sixth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Boston could not have begun the game any better, scoring the game’s first eight points before Pacers head coach Nate McMillan had seen enough and called a time-out.

During the time-out, the Jumbotron showed Indiana all-star Victor Oladipo who suffered a season-ending injury in January.

The time-out, his presence, it doesn’t matter.

Moments after the Jumbotron sighting, Indiana came out and played better and eventually did enough damage to lead 23-21 after the first quarter.

But the second quarter looked eerily similar to the first as Boston opened with an 8-2 run only for the Pacers to come back and eventually take a slim 49-47 lead into the half.

As the two teams went back and forth, there was an undeniable flatness about the usually-vocal Pacers fans who had the kind of energy you expect in a preseason game and not a playoff one.

The second half saw the Pacers faithful come alive as their team opened the quarter by scoring five of the quarter’s first seven points.

But the Celtics, as we’ve seen time and time again in this series, put together a strong third quarter to go into the fourth ahead 73-72 following a pair of free throws by Marcus Morris.

The fourth quarter saw the Celtics make just enough plays to escape with the win and with it, move on to the next round of the playoffs while the Pacers as well as their flamingo, palm tree-wearing fans are now officially on vacation.

Here are the standouts in Game 4 of the Boston-Indiana first-round series.

MVP

Gordon Hayward: He played with a steady level of aggression that we had not seen at any point in this series. There were drives to the basket, aggressive play defensively and overall, Hayward doing a lot of little things that really stood out. He was Boston’s go-to guy when it mattered most in the fourth quarter as he finished with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

MOST IMPROVED

Terry Rozier: This has been a tough series for Rozier, who came into Game 4 shooting 5-for-18 from the field and 3-for-11 on 3’s. On Sunday, Rozier tallied 11 points while connecting on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.

Al Horford: He had a double-double game for Boston, but they can’t afford to have him struggle like this in the next round when he has so many open to lightly contested shots. Still, Horford made a number of key plays whether it was defense or passing in the second half that would play a role in Boston getting the win, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

SIXTH MEN

Domantas Sabonis: Other than an occasional tug on Marcus Morris’ shorts or a nudging of Terry Rozier into a Pacers shooter to create a foul, Sabonis played a clean, hard-fought, well-played game before finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Marcus Morris: He closed out the series similar to how it began - knocking down big shots. Morris would finish with a near double-double of 18 points and eight rebounds.

MR. NOT-SO-GREAT

Wes Matthews: It’s never good when a guy brought in to help with shooting, goes 1-for-7 in the biggest game of the season. But that was indeed the stat line on Wes Matthews which included him missing four of his five shots from 3-point range.

TURNING POINT

With Indiana ahead 82-81, the Celtics force a turnover as Terry Rozier gets the ball up court and into the hands of Jayson Tatum for a likely dunk. Indiana’s Corey Joseph, trailing on the play, fouls Tatum with the contact that included a blow to the head resulting in a Flagrant-1 penalty. Boston would not trail for the remainder of the game.

UP NEXT: The Celtics move on to face the winner of the Milwaukee-Detroit series which the Bucks lead 3-0.

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Celtics injury report: Marcus Smart, Guerschon Yabusele both out

Celtics injury report: Marcus Smart, Guerschon Yabusele both out

The Boston Celtics' injury report isn't very long, but they are going to be without a couple of players against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

The Celtics are operating without Marcus Smart, who could be out for the first two playoff series after suffering an oblique injury late in the year, but the team also won't have Guerschon Yabusele. Yabusele is dealing with a sore back, so he will be out.

In his place, Jonathan Gibson, who was signed by the C's late in the year, will suit up.

Yabusele's absence won't have much of an impact on the Celtics in this series. He has only played 28 seconds so far through three games in the series, and it's likely that he would stay buried on the bench. He is behind big men like Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, and probably rookie Robert Williams in the pecking order, but still, losing interior depth is notable.

Gibson played in four games for the Celtics last season and averaged 8.5 points per game in those contests. However, he is likely to be the last man off the bench, so he probably won't play unless the game turns into a blowout.

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