BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas landed some big shots in Boston’s 111-103 Game 3 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
But there was one shot he connected on that could prove costly for him and the Celtics going forward.
Thomas, who scored a career-high 42 points on Friday, appeared to have landed a blow to Dennis Schroder’s head. Moments later, Schroder pushed Thomas down which led to Thomas immediately jumping to his feet but was restrained by Jared Sullinger.
After officials reviewed the play, both players were whistled for a technical foul.
But considering it was among the many topics of conversation in the locker room afterwards and Schroder discussed it on social media with an accompanying photo (he deleted soon after but we’ve got a screen shot of it), you can bank on the league reviewing it.
“I have seen it in the back in the locker room,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. “My thoughts are that the league will review it; the league does a good job on all things like this and they have high standards and all teams are aware of their emphasis during the playoffs. As far as an explanation, there wasn’t an explanation. There was a double technical and there was no review of the incident in the backcourt at the free throw line.”
That incident was one of the many that highlighted how the level of physical play was at its peak in Game 3.
In addition to the double technical fouls against Thomas and Schroder, there were also three flagrant-one fouls called (Boston’s Jared Sullinger and Atlanta’s Paul Millsap and Schroder).
In the first two games, there was only one flagrant foul called (Mike Scott in Game 1).
“It wasn’t too crazy, you know what I mean?” said Boston’s Evan Turner. “Some of them technically, you could see how it was. I don’t think any of them were malicious. Except for … who was the guy who hit Isaiah, the guy with the patch He hit Isaiah? Yeah, so that looked pretty crazy and not necessary.”
Turner was referring to the shove by Schroder which came after Thomas appeared to have hit him in the head.
The run-in with Thomas wasn’t the first time Schroder has had an incident in this playoff series involving a Celtics player.
In Boston’s Game 2 loss at Atlanta, Schroder was hit with a basketball by Terry Rozier which resulted in Rozier being whistled for a tech.
Rozier, who had five points in Game 3, said Schroder held his wrist on the Game 2 incident and added that he didn’t handle that situation as well as he should have.
“You just have to play ball. Things that … I don’t know if he’s got a problem, I don’t know what it is,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He’s probably just very competitive … it drove us. The little altercation last game and he had with IT (Isaiah Thomas) this game, it just made everybody want to play hard. It’s going to happen, it’s the playoffs. Everybody wants to be competitive.”
But there’s a line that exists between playing hard and breaking league rules, one that isn't clear as to which side Thomas and the Game 3 incident will fall on upon league review.
Thomas doesn’t seem overly concerned about potentially being suspended for Game 4.
“I’m not,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hit him. He got mad; he was talking. It’s playoff basketball. That’s what it’s about. I’m not going to back down from anybody and he knows that.”