Things got chippy between the two in the 1st quarter of Game 3, as Thomas appeared to have given Schroder a sneaky and dirty slap in the face as he headed back to the defensive end to guard Thomas.
The league investigated the interaction between Thomas and Schroder, and many expected Thomas to miss the pivotal Game 4 matchup on Sunday.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 23, 2016
However, the NBA ruled not to suspend him, much to the bewilderment of former NBA disciplinarian Stu Jackson.
If you have a rule and don't enforce, why have the rule?
— Stu Jackson (@StuJackson32) April 23, 2016
Schroder took exception to getting struck in the face by Thomas, and responded a few possessions later with a hard screen that sent Thomas pummeling to the floor. Thomas immediately popped up after the play wanting to escalate the matter with Schroder.
Luckily for Thomas and the Boston Celtics, he was restrained by teammate Jared Sullinger after the illegal screen by the Hawks’ guard. Both Thomas and Schroder were assessed technical fouls.
The interaction between Dennis Schroder and Isaiah Thomas seemed to light a fire in Thomas, as he ended the game with a career-high 42 points in the Celtics’ 111-103 victory over the Hawks to cut the series to 2-1. The 42 point performance by Thomas is the first 40+ point performance by any Celtic in any game since Rajon Rondo did it back in 2012. The last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Isaiah Thomas claimed after the game that the slap was an innocent accident.
“I didn’t mean to hit his head. 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.”