Isaiah Thomas left the Verizon Center looking for a fair whistle.
The Celtics’ All-Star point guard was held without a single free throw attempt during Boston’s 121-102 blowout loss to Washington on Sunday, a fact he repeatedly called to the media’s attention during his post-game comments from the podium.
Thomas, who finished with 19 points on 7-14 shooting in Game 4, said that the officials’ treatment of him must change when the second-round series returns to Boston’s TD Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday.
“[The Wizards] were very physical,” he said. “The refs were allowing them to hold and grab and do all those things. I think, especially in that third quarter, I might have hit the ground five or six straight times. I‘m not the one who likes hitting the ground. It’s gotta be called differently. … [It] can’t be allowed [for me] to be held and grabbed every pin down, every screen and I don’t even shoot one free throw. I play the same way each and every night. So I think that has to change.”
As a team, Boston attempted 24 free throws, just three fewer than Washington. But Thomas was kept off the line for just the second time this postseason and the fifth time all season. What’s more, Game 4 marked the first time in 2016-17 that Thomas didn’t attempt a free throw during a Celtics loss.
In Thomas’s view, the officiating crew of Ron Garretson, Sean Corbin and Dan Crawford was guilty of applying a double standard.
“I wasn’t getting anything here,” Thomas continued. “[The referees] were allowing them to be very physical with me. Coming off ball screens, coming off pin downs. All I’m saying is, when I tried to be physical with [the Wizards] on the other end, they were fouls. Guys went to the hole and got hit a little bit on lay-ups, they were fouls. Then when we went to the hole, especially myself, I’m hitting the ground and there’s no calls. … The calls should definitely be a little more even. In a season where I might have been top five in free throw attempts and makes. I play the same way each and every night.”
For the record, Thomas ranked fifth in total free throw attempts and third in makes during the regular season. So far during the playoffs, he ranks sixth in free throw attempts per game and seventh in makes per game. Thomas also led the league with 12.6 drives per game during the regular season and ranks second behind Houston’s James Harden with 13.2 drives per game during the playoffs.
Despite his repeated objections, Thomas didn’t put the responsibility for the ugly loss, which featured a game-changing third-quarter run for Washington, on the officials.
“I’m not saying [the officiating is] the reason why we lost,” Thomas said twice. “They went on a 26-0 run and we can’t have that on the road.”
Washington’s backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 56 points—and 13 free throw attempts—to even the series at two games apiece.
Thomas's comments run the risk of a fine from the league office. Memphis coach David Fizdale was fined $30,000 for criticizing the officials with his memorable "Take that for data" rant during a first-round series against San Antonio, while Houston owner Leslie Alexander was hit with a $100,000 fine for confronting a referee during a first-round game against Oklahoma City.