Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics beat the Bulls 104-95 Sunday to even the teams’ first-round playoff series at 2-2. The game was chippy at times, and so was the postgame.

In addition to Jimmy Butler roasting Marcus Smart for being a fake tough guy, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg suggested Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas travels on every possession. Thomas scored a game-high 33 points barely a week after his sister died in a car crash.

Here were Hoiberg’s remarks:

“Let me say this, Isaiah Thomas is a hell of a player, an unbelievable competitor, he’s a warrior with everything he’s going through right now, he had a hell of a game tonight. But when you’re allowed to discontinue your dribble on every possession, he is impossible to guard. He is impossible to guard when you’re able to put your hand underneath the ball and take two or three steps and put it back down. It’s impossible to guard him in those situations.”

Naturally, Thomas did not take well to the suggestion that he constantly gets away with travels. The diminutive point guard had a simply response Sunday: “I guess he’s going to keep saying it, but I’ve been dribbling that way my whole life. I don’t know what to say to that.”

Asked how many times he’d been called for palming the ball, he said, “I can’t recall one time this season I’ve been called for a carry.”

Of course, NBA referees rarely call travels when a player palms the ball, even if by the letter of the law players probably deserve more than few whistles.

There could be a certain amount of gamesmanship here. It’s possible that Hoiberg simply wants to plant the idea in Thomas’ mind that he’s palming the ball, in hopes that fear of a traveling call will slow him down in Game 4.

Or maybe Hoiberg just wanted to take some attention off the fact that his team, after going up 2-0 in this series, is now headed back to Boston tied 2-2.

For what it’s worth, here are some Isaiah Thomas highlights to parse for potential travels:

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.