The Boston Celtics moved one game away from the conference semifinals on Sunday with a 129-121 Game 4 win in Atlanta against the Hawks.
The Celtics ran out to an early lead, and while the Hawks would close the gap in the second half they could never wrestle the lead away from Boston. Atlanta managed to get the deficit down to five with 3:36 to play in the game, but that was as close as they got down the stretch, due in large part to their inability to get stops when they needed them the most. The dagger came in the form of a scramble drill three from Jayson Tatum, who hit a long three after recovering a loose ball that Marcus Smart dribbled the ball off of either his or Clint Capela’s foot and had it roll into the backcourt.
The broadcast never showed a definitive replay, but there was some wonder as to whether the ball actually went off Capela or Smart. If it were the latter, it should’ve been a backcourt violation to give Atlanta a chance to cut the gap to two possessions. Instead, it was ruled a deflection and Tatum’s wild three pushed Boston’s lead to 12 with two minutes to go, effectively ending the game.
It was one of the calls during the game the Hawks were not happy with, and after the game Hawks guard Dejounte Murray decided to confront official Gediminas Petraitis, bumping him and barking something in his ear.
Murray would continue to yell back towards the officials as his teammates directed him to the locker room, as frustrations boiled over a bit for the star guard after the loss. While the Hawks weren’t happy with some of the calls in the game, both teams were about even in free throw attempts (25 for Boston, 24 for Atlanta) and it didn’t feel like there was an egregiously unfair whistle for one side. Even if Murray felt there was, this is certainly not the way to go about expressing that frustration.
The league will almost assuredly hand Murray a fine for this, because making purposeful contact with an official is an absolute no-no for the NBA, and they’ll likely want to talk to Petraitis to find out what Murray said to him as well. The Hawks already face an uphill battle in Game 5 in Boston, but if Murray were to get something even more than a fine here — and we’ve seen one suspension already this playoffs in the form of Draymond Green — that would be a considerable loss for the Hawks facing a must-win game.
UPDATE: The NBA is indeed looking into the incident according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
The NBA is investigating Hawks guard Dejounte Murray’s actions toward officials at the end of Game 4 Sunday night, a league source told ESPN.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 24, 2023