It is no secret that there is no love lost between Atlanta point guard Dennis Schröder and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. They met for the first time in the Hawks’ 103-101 loss to the Celtics on Friday.
Thomas came up big scoring a game-high 28 points including the game-winner with 2.4 seconds remaining. Schröder battled foul trouble from the start and sat the entire fourth quarter while Malcolm Delaney helped guide the comeback. He finished with just four points and four assists while going 2 for 11 from the field.
There was clearly dialogue going back and forth between Schröder and Thomas throughout the game, but Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the game that he thought the foul trouble was more of a factor for Schröder’s tough night than the rivalry with Thomas.
“No I think he had a couple of tough calls. Particularly the second foul,” Budenholzer said. “Really I would say both of his first two fouls. It was one of those things where the ball doesn’t bounce your way, or the call doesn’t go your way. So he never really got in a rhythm.”
But a clearly shaken Schröder had a bit of a different take for the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore in the locker room afterwards.
Schroder on Thomas: "If he think that he got to curse at my mom or say some dumb stuff about my family, has nothing to do with basketball."— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) January 14, 2017
More Schroder: That’s his choice. I’ve got too much class for that. Next one, we are going to get it.”— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) January 14, 2017
Those comments prompted a reply from Thomas who denied making any of those comments to Schröder.
@CVivlamoreAJC not sure what the quote is referring to but one thing is certain I would never disrespect/talk trash about anyones family/mom— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) January 14, 2017
@CVivlamoreAJC That type of trash talk is not my style & never has been. Flat out NEVER happened.— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) January 14, 2017
This rivalry began in the playoffs last season when Thomas struck Schröder in the head in Game 3. There was no foul called and Thomas was not suspended for his actions. The intensity between the two continued to escalate as Atlanta ultimately won the series in six games.
Schröder is in his first season as the team’s starter at point guard and has performed well. Friday’s game was the first time in seven games where he failed to score at least 16 points. However, Atlanta needs him to keep his emotions in check in games like this. It was clear coming in that his matchup with Thomas would be in the spotlight and he was taken out of his rhythm early on.
One thing is for certain, this rivalry is just getting started.