Schroder calls out Celtics for late challenge in Saturday's blowout

Schroder calls out Celtics for late challenge in Saturday’s blowout originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Dennis Schroder and the Toronto Raptors didn’t take kindly to the Boston Celtics’ late challenge in Saturday’s lopsided affair.

C’s coach Joe Mazzulla challenged an out-of-bounds call with his team up 27 points and only 3:39 left in the fourth quarter. The Raptors’ bench, including Schroder and their coach Darko Rajaković, took exception to Mazzulla challenging a play with the game already in hand.

You can watch the sequence below:

Schroder expressed his displeasure with the challenge after the game.

“Up 30 you’re not supposed to challenge nothing,” the ex-Celtics guard said, per The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. “You won, it’s three minutes left. You shouldn’t disrespect us like that.”

Mazzulla explained his decision to challenge the play during his postgame press conference.

“They just thought it was — I don’t know if it was like, disrespectful or cheap to challenge in that situation,” Mazzulla said. “I don’t really agree or disagree. I think at the end of the day, my responsibility is to my players first. Having respect for the game, we’ve been in that situation before where we don’t shoot the last shot. We let the clock go out. We do that all the time.

“But with three-and-a-half minutes to go and you have a group of guys that check in and they’re playing as hard as they can, I think it’s my responsibility to my players first, and it was a clear opportunity for me to empower the players, let them know that I’m coaching you, and those minutes to me are just as important as the start of the game. That’s what I told my players, and I’ll always put them first.”

Mazzulla didn’t intend to disrespect Toronto. Rather, he was sending a message that he cares about his reserves and starters equally. While his explanation makes sense, it’s easy to understand why the Raptors were perturbed by the otherwise pointless challenge. When the game is out of reach, the unwritten rule in any sport is to avoid showing up your opponent. Toronto felt as though that unwritten rule was broken.

Nevertheless, the Celtics finished off the 117-94 blowout to win their second game in as many nights. They’ll look to make it three straight victories when they host the New York Knicks on Monday.

As for the Raptors, they’ll be out for revenge next Friday when the C’s head to Toronto for their second NBA In-Season Tournament game.

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