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Drama Is Brewing in Boston and Atlanta

Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Schröder each took aim at their respective coaches after crucial losses

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Late Monday night, after Boston fell to the Clippers — the Celtics’ second straight loss — and Atlanta to Golden State — third consecutive loss for the Hawks — another entry was filled in on each shot chart. Bubbled in past half court, hailing all the way from the locker room, both Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Schröder went 1-for-1 in postgame, taking aim at their respective coaches and hitting their marks.

Schröder was benched in the third quarter after an argument with (guess who!) Dwight Howard distracted both from playing defense. Steph Curry took advantage of the lapse, pulling up at the wing and sinking a 3-pointer (happy to see he’s making those again). Golden State, which eventually won 119–111, was down one before the shot; the Hawks and those bright-blue uniforms were still capable of snapping their losing streak.

After the defensive distraction, coach Mike Budenholzer reportedly yelled “That’s what I’m talking about!” to the German, then benched him for the remainder of the game. An hour removed from the words “That’s what I’m talking about” being screamed in his face, Schröder was asked by the media why he sat, only to say, “I don’t really know.” But surely he understood his coach’s decision?

“I don’t understand coach’s decision,” Schröder said. Ignorance is not only bliss; it can be a subtle shot at your boss’s decision-making, and Schröder delicately fired away. “We have to figure it out,” Schröder said. “Me and coach. I want to talk about it. Dwight’s got to be in there, too. Get on the same page.” After losing six of their past eight, with their fifth-place standing looking more temporary than ever, the Hawks might need to get on the same chapter first.

Thomas, on the other hand, was way more direct. Frustration for the All-Star came in two acts; first in a loss to the Suns, in heartbreaking, last-second, 5-foot-9-guard fashion, then in a slow burn against the Clippers, in which a 13-point third-quarter lead was erased with a 43–14 Jamal-Crawford–is-alive run. In postgame comments, he focused blame for the late collapse in one very pointed, very presidential direction.

Brad Stevens did “experiment” — creativity is necessary when going against DeAndre Jordan and a healthy Blake Griffin without Al Horford and Jonas Jerebko. Jae Crowder, 6-foot-6, was pushed to the center spot, and Jordan made an easy living against him. “We can’t be experimenting in Game 63,” is what Thomas said, and, though it was technically Game 64, that failed matchup made his point understood. But it’s likely Thomas is referring to the move Stevens made up seven in the third, when Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, James Young, and Jordan Mickey all took the floor together for the first time … ever. On an 8–0 run, Crawford danced on every single one of them, pulling up and draining shots while no one in green could collectively make anything.

The Celtics’ 116–102 loss slots them next to the Wizards in the loss column, and they face a tough road game against Golden State next — there goes any hope for the revival of Rozier-Smart-Brown-Young-Mickey on the court together. So long, Crawford will miss you.