Isaiah Thomas has some fighting words for Dennis Schroder
At the end of a hard-fought playoff series, teams converge at center court and exchange pleasantries: encouraging words are said on one end of the floor, congratulatory words on the other. It’s customary in the NBA and across other professional sports leagues to do so. In the Atlanta Hawks’ series-clinching 104-92 victory in Game 6 on Thursday night, however, Isaiah Thomas did not wait until then to share his parting sentiments with Dennis Schroder.
As Thomas was subbed off with 13.6 seconds to go in the game, he appeared to tell –
perhaps threaten – Schroder, saying: “we’ll see you in the back.”
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After the 13.6 seconds elapsed to officially end the game, Schroder appeared to shout something in response, but was physically restrained by injured teammate Tiago Splitter and Director of Team Security Juan Jackson, who guided him back to the locker room before the confrontation escalated.
The play had been physical throughout the series, and Schroder’s and Thomas’ battle in Game 3 epitomized that physicality. Schroder’s ability to bother his opponent manifested itself in Game 3.
Thomas still scored 42 points, however.
On the possession, after Schroder sent Thomas tumbling to the floor, Thomas, perhaps intentionally, swung and hit Schroder on the face with his left forearm.
Thomas was not punished in-game for the swing, nor was he given a suspension that some speculated he deserved, but he was assessed a post factum flagrant-1 foul the day after. Later in the same game, Schroder committed another hard foul on Thomas, but this time was given a flagrant-1 in real-time. It was the third flagrant foul dealt out on the night to go along with two technical fouls.
Though it would appear that Schroder’s only crimes were in playing hard defense, being irritating and getting slapped in the face, it’s evident that Thomas’ animosity persists.
And it’s evident that Celtics fans have retained that animosity as well.
Every time Schroder touched the ball in Games 4 and 6, boos rained down from the peanut gallery at TD Garden. And that’s exactly the role that Schroder wished to embrace.
“I like [being booed]. That’s just another motivation for me to win the game.”
Schroder scored 12 points and had eight assists in 23 minutes of play to help the Hawks close out Boston in Game 6.
Despite the nationally televised taunt, Schroder could have easily scoffed and moved on – his team just ended Thomas’ season so it’s reasonable to assume why Thomas was upset – but instead he attempted to retaliate with some choice words of his own. Luckily, Splitter was there to dissuade his endeavors before an ill-advised confrontation took place.
The Hawks are going to need that extra intensity and scrappiness off the bench as they get set for an Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Game 1 will be in Cleveland on Monday, May 2 at 7 p.m. on TNT.