Isaiah Thomas has been the driving force behind a Boston Celtics team finally getting its act together in 2017, amassing numbers that put his taller peers to shame. The 5'9" phenom is putting up over 28 points and six assists per game, a feat that has never been matched over a full season by a player 5'11" or shorter. He's not just the best little guy in the league, he's proving himself as one of the best guards in the league: period.
Not everyone around the NBA appears to be a fan, however. Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder, who took over the starting job in ATL after Jeff Teague was traded to Indiana in the offseason, thinks Thomas crossed the line with some trash talk in their most recent matchup.
After Friday night's 103-101 loss to the Celtics, Schroder told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about some out-of-bounds talk by Thomas:
When the Celtics went up by 20 points, Thomas taunted the Philips Arena crowd by repeating that Schroder 'ain’t nothing.' He said after the game that 'Every time I step on the floor I want to win the battle. He’s not somebody I’m worried about. I’m worried about doing what’s best for my team and getting my team a win. I’ll worry about the rest later.'
Schroder did not play the fourth quarter as the Hawks mounted a comeback and eventually tied the game before Thomas hit the final shot.
'I’m playing basketball,' Schroder said afterward. 'If he think that he got to curse at my mom or say some dumb stuff about my family, that has nothing to do with basketball. That’s his choice. I’ve got too much class for that. Next one, we are going to get it.'
When word made its way back to Thomas, he disputed Schroder's version of events directly to Vivlamore on Twitter:
The bitterness between the two guards pre-dates this season. In Game 3 of last year's Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Thomas got caught smacking Schroder mid-game, which resulted in a Flagrant 1 ruling after further review by the league. Before last night's game, Schroder assured reporters it would be water under the bridge, so long as Thomas didn't hit him again:
'If he don’t slap me, nothing is going to happen,' Schroder said Friday morning. 'If we keep it competitive, just fighting for balls, then nothing is going to happen. Then both of us will try to win the game. That’s fine but slapping or something else is not okay with me.'
That sounds great in theory, but going after Schroder's family doesn't seem like an effective way to put out the fire. With both guys playing he-said, he-said, you'll have to decide who to believe here. If you ask us, Thomas probably didn't make it this far as an undersized guard by playing nice with his opponents.
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