CLEVELAND — Before the Celtics faced Golden State on Sunday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the officials’ reluctance to call carrying violations makes it especially difficult to defend point guard Isaiah Thomas on screen-and-rolls.
“He’s taken advantage of the new NBA rule of carrying the ball is perfectly legal,” Kerr said, smiling.
Kerr went on to say that Thomas is hardly alone, and that Golden State point guard Stephen Curry is even sometimes guilty of similar things. On Tuesday, Thomas said he was aware of the Warriors’ frustrations about his play, because he has heard them.
“Every time I play Golden State, even when they had [coach] Mark Jackson last year, every time I had the ball, they’re yelling, ‘He’s carrying the ball! He’s carrying the ball!’ ” Thomas said. “That’s probably the one team I hear it from.
“Some [other] coaches do it, but that team does it consistently. I don’t know if they do it to everybody, every point guard, but since I’ve been in the league, they’ve been on the refs about me doing it.”
Thomas made it clear that until a referee decides his moves are illegal, he is not overly concerned about what opposing coaches think.
“If they’re not going to call it, I must not be doing something wrong,” he said. “If they call it, I’ve got to make adjustments.”
On Monday, following his first full week with the Celtics, Thomas was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He averaged 22 points and 6.5 assists per game, leading Boston to a 3-1 record. Coach Brad Stevens said it was “unheard of” for a newly acquired player to earn the honor so quickly.
“No. 1 is, he’s had a good impact,” Stevens said. “And No. 2 is, when you win, you get recognized. We’ve said that before. If we’re 1-3 last week, he doesn’t get recognized.”
Thomas said he is thriving because his new coaches and teammates have made the transition seamless since he was acquired from the Phoenix Suns.
“It’s been a week,” he said, “and I feel like I’ve been here the whole season.”
Cavaliers at a glance
■ When, where: Tuesday, 7 p.m., at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland.
■ TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Scoring: LeBron James 26.2, Kyrie Irving 21.7, Kevin Love 17.0.
■ Rebounding: Love 10.2, Tristan Thompson 8.3, Timofey Mozgov 8.0.
■ Assists: James 7.2, Irving 5.2, Matthew Dellavedova 2.8, J.R. Smith 2.8.
■ Head to head: This is the second of four meetings. Cleveland won the first, 122-121, on Nov. 14 in Boston.
■ Miscellany: James’s scoring average would be his lowest since his rookie season (20.9) . . . The Cavaliers head home having lost two straight after winning 18 of 20 . . . Cleveland’s nine home losses are the second fewest in the Eastern Conference.