At the end of his career night, Isaiah Thomas finished with 42 points after putting the Celtics on his back in a much-needed win in Game 3, but that will all be for naught if he can't lace them up against the Hawks on Sunday night. After Dennis Schroder cut the Boston lead to 29-18 late in the first quarter, he and Thomas got tangled up as the two started coming down court:
Tempers flared moments later as Schroder retaliated and hip checked Thomas to the floor, and the two scuffled briefly before the refs went to review the play. Both received technicals, Schroder would be called for a flagrant 1, and the confrontation set the tone for the rest of the game. Two more flagrant fouls would later be called in the third quarter.
At first blush--and this is admittedly a bit biased because well, go Cs--this doesn't seem like a suspension-worthy offense, especially in the post-season. As CSNNE's Chris Mannix says, "it's the playoffs, man." This kind of stuff happens:
It's a different era, but we're not talking about a clothesline to the head or an off-court altercation between former teammates squabbling over a love triangle or DeMarcus Cousins. Last night's Andre Drummond elbow to LeBron's head was more egregious. This was nothing. By Schroder's own admission to the AJC, he called it a slap, not a punch:
"I'm not going to let nobody slap me in my face. I told (Thomas) that. If you want to play like that, we'll play like that. I was mad."
He later took to Twitter (but has since deleted the tweet) saying, "Woow... They calling a flagrant foul on me! Where I try to protect myself!!! But Isaiah Thomas can hit me in my face!" Maybe I'm splitting hairs here between a slap and a fist, but ultimately, the NBA will have to judge whether or not IT swung his hand on purpose but honestly, it doesn't look intentional at all. He's pointing at Marcus Smart to take the inbounds pass and Schroder, who's not even really guarding Thomas but decides to buzz the tower anyway, initiates the contact knowing that IT isn't even going to get the ball. The slap or punch or whatever it is is inadvertent. I'll defer to Schroder's teammate, Al Horford:
"I feel like they look the other way on that kind of stuff," Horford told the AJC. "Those kind of issues need to be addressed in-game. I mean after the game, it's too late."
They didn't exactly review the supposed hit, but they stopped the game when Schroder went after Thomas seconds later and dealt with it accordingly. Expect a fine if anything comes down from the NBA, and play on.