Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) blocks the shot of Hawks center Al Horford (15). (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) blocks the shot of Hawks center Al Horford (15). (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – With so much on the line, now is not the time for false bravado or acting like a tough guy. Or flopping like one. 

The Celtics were reminded of this Saturday morning before they got together for film session and a light walkthrough at their practice facility in Waltham. 

The intensity level picked up Friday night during Game 3. When Jae Crowder was drilled by Jeff Teague in the first quarter and the officials deemed it to be a “common foul,” Crowder said the officials opened the door for chippy play to escalate. 

“I told them that hard foul on me by Teague set the tone, I feel like,” Crowder said Saturday. “If you’re going to call that a Flagrant 1, then we know how far we can go. That’s when they tried to change it and called Flagrant 1s and things like that. I told the ref, you set the tone, I hope you realize that, and that’s when it got chippy. It’s just part of it, and the refs have to realize that. That’s for the players. We realize that sets the tone.”

The tone produced three ‘Flagrant 1’ fouls in Game 3, all in the second half. The Hawks committed two, Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder while Jared Sullinger was called for one in the third. That doesn’t include the double-technical that preceded the Thomas arm to the face of Schroder with 1:27 left in the first quarter. 

“Both teams are trying to win the game,” Thomas said. “You’ve just got to be smart about whatever you do but knowing that it’s playoff basketball and things are going to happen and it is going to get a little chippy. You’ve got to hold your composure and do what it takes to win. I’m just out there fighting and trying to get my team wins.”

“We’ve reminded, we talk about that stuff and everything else,” Brad Stevens said after practice Saturday. “But I think, at the end of the day, there’s such a fine line between hard real good competition and crossing that line and you just gotta do your best to compete at that physical level necessary to have success. And, obviously, hey, they deemed that he had crossed the line by giving him a flagrant-1 and it is what is and now we move forward. We’ve got to focus our attention on the Hawks.

“When you’re playing a team for the fourth time and they’re all competitive guys on both sides of the ball, they’re all good players, they’re all tough guys. I trust that nothing like that would ever go over the line. But it’s hard for me to predict that but it’s not something that we talk about, it’s not something that they talk about. Obviously, it’s a competitive game and sometimes when there’s a competitive game with a scoreboard and a crowd and everything else, emotions get involved. But you hope that nothing like that ever happens that obviously isn’t good for the game.”

What also isn’t good for the game is flying into the air under the basket trying to draw a foul late in the fourth quarter, only to throw yourself out of the play as the other team heads off on the break. That was the case Friday as Marcus Smart flopped and was fined $5,000 for the move. 

“Danny talked to him a little bit today,” Stevens said of Smart’s talk with Ainge. “I’ll have that conversation at some point with him. But obviously I think the fine is the message. There’s not much more that I’ll be able to say that will be impactful.”

“I was just trying to make winning plays for my team,” Smart said when asked. “We had a great game last night, that’s really what my focus is on. I believe every player that plays is just trying to do everything he can to help his team.

“Just make the plays. You just go out there. You know you’re going out there and playing hard and giving it your all and you just try to do anything you can in your power that you can do to help your team. It’s just a decision that the league made. That’s nothing I can control. I’ve just got to go out there and keep playing my game and playing hard.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

WALTHAM – Despite the dire prediction from former NBA discipline chief Stu Jackson, Isaiah Thomas never had a worry about being suspended for Game 4 Sunday night at TD Garden. 

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas was a man on a mission Friday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas was a man on a mission Friday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – Despite the dire prediction from former NBA discipline chief Stu Jackson, Isaiah Thomas never had a worry about being suspended for Game 4 Sunday night at TD Garden. 

On Saturday, he didn’t speak with the league about his left arm to the face to Hawks guard Dennis Schroder. Instead, he only received word from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge that he was being assessed an additional ‘Flagrant 1’ foul for the first-half incident following a double-technical. 

Thomas’ reaction?

“It was the right call. I’m really focused on Game 4 but I’m glad I wasn’t suspended. It was definitely…[accidental],” Thomas said. “Both teams are trying to win the game. You’ve just got to be smart about whatever you do but knowing that it’s playoff basketball and things are going to happen and it is going to get a little chippy. You’ve got to hold your composure and do what it takes to win. I’m just out there fighting and trying to get my team wins.”

Dennis Schroder has become public enemy No. 1 in this series and the chief instigator with Thomas and Terry Rozier. 

“I guess so. I guess that’s his job. Like I said, I’m focused on what we’ve got here and whatever we can do to win Game 4. I guess that’s his job to get under people,” Thomas said. “How much [Hawks] were complaining about it [after the game]. I’m focused on Game 4, man. They made the call of what it was, a ‘Flagrant 1’, whatever it was. I’m glad I’m able to play.”

Was he concerned that the league might hand down a suspension based on the TV replays and the vines that went viral during the game?

“Nah, because I knew what I did. Yeah, the replay, in a slower version it’s going to look like I looked at him and tried to hit him. If I try to hit somebody, I would’ve hit him. I know cameras are watching. I didn’t do it on purpose. But I’m just glad I wasn’t suspended and I can help my team in Game 4.”

Helping his team win Game 4 is not only on the mind of Thomas but his coach, too. Thomas was used as a shooting guard for much of the game, with Evan Turner running the point. It opened up new looks that led to a career-high 42 points in the 111-103 win. 

“They’ll make some. I don’t know what, exactly,” Thomas said of likely Hawks adjustments. “But they’ll probably try to have a couple more guys at me. Coach is doing a great job at adjusting to whatever they’re doing. Me playing off the ball, I think it’s harder to trap me and have two or three guys on me at all times. I’m just going to go out there and figure out what they’re doing and play my game.”

In mid-January, the Celtics lost four straight and Stevens, looking to change things up, did the same thing, moving Thomas to the shooting guard. 

“Coach did it when we went on that little four or five-game losing streak and Coach wanted to change things up a little bit,” Thomas said Saturday. “I think it just gives us more options, especially with Jonas being in that starting lineup, and spacing the floor a lot, and me being off the ball, where a guy like Evan who can make plays for everybody on the team and also make plays for himself, it just helps us. It makes us more dynamic.

“Coach had talked to me about doing that, and talked to me about how he watched film of me back in college and me being off the ball more. I’m comfortable with that. I’m comfortable with whatever Coach needs me to do and that’s just me being myself and being aggressive.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics and Isaiah Thomas have dodged a major bullet on the eve of Game 4.

The Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy was the first to report the NBA has decided not to suspend the star guard for swinging his elbow and landing with a hand to the face of Dennis Schroder in the first half of Friday’s 111-103 Celtics’ win over the Hawks.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts after his basket against the Atlanta Hawks in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts after his basket against the Atlanta Hawks in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics and Isaiah Thomas have dodged a major bullet on the eve of Game 4.

The Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy was the first to report the NBA has decided not to suspend the star guard for his left elbow to the face of Dennis Schroder in the first half of Friday’s 111-103 Celtics’ win over the Hawks.

As Schroder was coming up court, a vine and replays clearly show Thomas throwing the elbow. But Thomas insisted after the game it was accidental.

The league apparently agreed, or at least determined there was no where close enough evidence to keep the guard, coming off a 42-point career effort, out of Game 4 Sunday night. Instead, the league announced they had assigned Thomas with a Flagrant 1 foul on the play. 

The news also means that former NBA discipline chief Stu Jackson was wrong in his prediction after the game on NBA TV that Thomas was clearly facing a suspension based on the video evidence. 

There was a bit of negative discipline news regarding another Celtics guard. Marcus Smart was fined $5,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-flopping rules during Game 3.

The incident occurred with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Celtics 111-103 victory over the Hawks last night at TD Garden.

To view the play click on the following link:

http://www.nba.com/video/channels/originals/2016/04/23/bbops-marcus-smart-flop-042216.nba/

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts after his basket against the Atlanta Hawks in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts after his basket against the Atlanta Hawks in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics and Isaiah Thomas have dodged a major bullet on the eve of Game 4.

The Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy was the first to report the NBA has decided not to suspend the star guard for his left elbow to the face of Dennis Schroder in the first half of Friday’s 111-103 Celtics’ win over the Hawks.

As Schroder was coming up court, a vine and replays clearly show Thomas throwing the elbow. But Thomas insisted after the game it was accidental.

The league apparently agreed, or at least determined there was no where close enough evidence to keep the guard, coming off a 42-point career effort, out of Game 4 Sunday night. Instead, the league announced they had assigned Thomas with a Flagrant 1 foul on the play. 

The news also means that former NBA discipline chief Stu Jackson was wrong in his prediction after the game on NBA TV that Thomas was clearly facing a suspension based on the video evidence. 

There was a bit of negative discipline news regarding another Celtics guard. Marcus Smart was fined $5,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-flopping rules during Game 3.

The incident occurred with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Celtics 111-103 victory over the Hawks last night at TD Garden.

To view the play click on the following link:

http://www.nba.com/video/channels/originals/2016/04/23/bbops-marcus-smart-flop-042216.nba/

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Isaiah Thomas scored a career-high 42 points while Jonas Jerebko was the surprise star in the Boston Celtics' 111-103 Game 3 win over the Atlanta Hawks. ESPN's Chris Forsberg joins Sam Packard and Jared Weiss to discuss how Jerebko opened up the paint for the Little Man on their career nights and how the silly roughhousing of Game 3 has pushed this series to incredible levels. They then took your #WEEICeltics Tweet Bag questions to try to settle the raging debate over hot vs cold lobster rolls.

Jonas Jerebko can't stop until he gets enough. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

They freed the Swede, and it’s all they’d need.

Well, that and 42 points from Isaiah Thomas.



The Hawks had no answer for Isaiah Thomas on Friday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)Jae Crowder sprinted at Jeff Teague to set a rugged pick. Isaiah Thomas dismissed him with a wave.



Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was a man in control Friday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was a man in control Friday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

While the TD Garden crowd was going bonkers with the Celtics up 37-20 after one quarter in Game 3 Friday night, coach Brad Stevens had a much different feel.

“I knew we would start with great energy because our guys were hurting a little bit from Tuesday but I was really worried that we would be – you know, I don’t know, for any of you that have ever run the mile, you run the first lap, breakneck speed, and then about the third lap, it just feels like you’re never going to make the last two laps.”

Stevens really had those concerns late in the third quarter. The Celtics opened the second half well enough, scoring the first seven points and racing out to a 64-45 lead. Then methodically, the Hawks charged back. With a 1:21 left, Dennis Schroder completed a three-point play that appeared to tie the game, 78-78. In actuality, it gave the Hawks the lead, 78-77, since Isaiah Thomas’ 3-pointer moments earlier was degraded to a standard 2-pointer after the quarter. Whatever the case, the Celtics were wearing down and the good vibes from Isaiah Thomas’ scorching start seemed to be diminishing somewhat.

But the Celtics caught a huge break when Atlanta couldn’t grab a rebound off an Evan Turner miss. Jonas Jerebko collected it and threw it up in the air and it came down through the hoop to put Boston on top, 79-78, heading into the fourth.

“I thought that we were starting to wear down, obviously, after we took that 19 point lead,” Stevens said. “But then Isaiah made huge play after huge play. But then everybody made plays to kind of keep it at bay after they tied it and then push it out at the end.

“I thought the basket at the end of the fourth quarter – or third quarter – was huge, by Jonas and starting the fourth quarter off with a couple of buckets was big too, just to kind of get ourselves right. Because it’s hard when (Kyle) Korver gets going like that, those guys get driving down hill – they’re a good team. It’s hard.”

Stevens had one of his better games of the season from an Xs and Os standpoint. Not only did starting Jerebko over Jared Sullinger pay off in extra energy down the stretch, starting Evan Turner over Marcus Smart gave the Stevens the chance to play Thomas more as the shooting guard. It also allowed Stevens to run Thomas off screens and create driving lanes with Thomas on the move, something he hinted at before the game

“Well, I mean, we’re playing, of our nine guys that played, four of them our point guards, because I included Evan in that. So, yeah. Yeah, I mean, and we’ll look at what was good, what was not good, and have to adjust some,” Stevens said.

As for Jerebko, it was evident from the start that he was going to provide a needed boost. His put-back slam dunk in the opening minute sent the crowd into a roar early and fired him up as well.

“He plays really, really, hard. He’s got versatility with regard to defensively,” Stevens said. “It’s really hard to switch onto (Jeff) Teague and (Dennis) Schroder, but all of our bigs have to do that some as they get going downhill on you. And then his scoring is just a plus. You know, if he scores, he scores; if not, he’s still spacing for us. And so they have to honor that. And he had a big driving basket with his left hand in the fourth quarter, he had the big basket at the end of the third quarter, but then his defense was really great all night, I thought.”

And Stevens picked up his first playoff win in seven tries.

“Game Sunday. It’s great. It’s better than the alternative,” Stevens said. “But this team’s too good to do anything but focus on what’s next.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia