The Hawks’ chances of extending their first-round playoff series against the Celtics took a significant hit Monday when star guard Dejounte Murray was suspended for Tuesday’s Game 5 for making inappropriate contact with and verbally abusing a game official.
The incident took place at the end of the Celtics’ 129-121 Game 4 win in Atlanta Sunday night. Murray approached referee Gediminas Petraitis, leaned in, and made a head-butt motion before bumping Petraitis’s shoulder with his chest. Murray could be seen yelling in Petraitis’s direction as he walked off the court.
The Hawks, who face a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series, will try to avoid elimination without their star guard, who is averaging 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game in this series. With Murray suspended, the Hawks will likely turn to backup wing Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is averaging 12.5 points off the bench.
The Celtics have some extra incentive to close things out Tuesday. If they win, their conference semifinal matchup against the 76ers will start Saturday rather than next Monday. That would give 76ers star center Joel Embiid, who is nursing a sprained knee, less time to recover in time for Game 1.