Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas will not be suspended after striking Hawks guard Dennis Schröder in the head in Game 3 on Friday, the league instead assessing a flagrant 1 foul.
The play underscored a career night for Thomas, on which he poured in 42 points to lead the Celtics to a 111–103 home victory over the Hawks. After speculation he would face harsher discipline, Thomas will play in Game 4 as Boston attempts to even the series at home.
A video replay appeared to show Thomas swing his left hand with a closed fist into the right side of Schröder’s face as the Hawks guard ran up the court late in the first quarter.
Schröder immediately appealed to the officials, albeit unsuccessfully, and the two players each received technical fouls later in the ensuing possession.
According to the NBA rulebook, a punch is cause for an immediate ejection, as is an attempted punch that doesn’t make contact.
Former NBA executive Stu Jackson told NBA TV on Friday that he believed Thomas would be suspended.
“It’s clearly not a basketball play,” Jackson said. “There’s no reason for Isaiah Thomas to extend his arm, swing it and make contact with Schröder’s head in that situation. … In my mind, [Thomas] will get suspended for one game.”
After the game, Schröder, who was later assessed a flagrant foul, posted a photo of the blow to his Twitter account with the message, “They calling a flagrant foul on me! Where I try to protect myself !!! But [Isaiah] Thomas can hit me in the face.”
According to MassLive.com, Thomas claimed that he “didn’t mean to hit [Schröder] in the head.”
Boston will be without Avery Bradley for Game 4, as the defensive-minded guard suffered a strained right hamstring in Game 1 and is likely to miss the rest of the series.
Atlanta holds a 2–1 series lead. Game 4 is set for Boston on Sunday.