Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas was hitting everything in Game 3 against the Hawks. And that included the Atlanta Hawks’ Dennis Schroder — right in the face. The NBA rule is clear on “striking” other players — no can do. And the NBA faces pressure to suspend Thomas or lose credibility. (And it’s credibility the NBA has recently sought to preserve, admitting other botched playoff calls .)
Thomas predictably claims the contact was incidental. But a close look at the pop he delivered to Schroder’s head shows it’s actually a double shot. After the left-handed slap/punch to the side of Schroder’s head, Thomas follows up in the same motion with his elbow. The follow-through elbow strike doesn’t quite land — but it’s a practiced move common in traditional martial arts. In February Thomas told the New York Times he has been studying martial artist Bruce Lee, watching films and YouTube clips of the master, trying to emulate him. The same article recounts Thomas’ close relationship with boxing champion Floyd Mayweather. Thomas is a fighter, drawn to fighters. That’s what helped him score 42 points in the 111-103 Celtics victory. And it’s the reason he probably won’t play the next game. Schroder said the refs, who looked at the play on film at halftime, apologized to him for missing it.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 23, 2016