The NBA announced Monday that Hawks guard Dejounte Murray has been suspended one game without pay for making contact with and verbally abusing an official at the end of Game 4 of Atlanta’s first-round series with the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.
Murray will serve the suspension in Game 5 on Tuesday night — which could be the final game of Atlanta’s season. The Hawks trail the Celtics 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, and Boston will advance to face the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a win.
“Beating Boston in the Garden in the situation we’re in right now, we all know is a challenge in and of itself,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said just after learning about Murray’s suspension. “[But] it’s something the entire group has to absorb.”
Murray, who had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in 40 minutes in Sunday’s 129-121 Celtics win, made contact with referee Gediminas Petraitis as he was walking off the court at the end of the game. He then turned back and pointed and yelled at someone before exiting the court.
Murray did not speak to reporters after Sunday’s game.
“Dejounte recognizes his part in the situation. That’s just not something you can do,” Snyder said. “You’d have to ask him directly as far as what had transpired previously. I think there was frustration over the course of the game that built up, and he didn’t handle it the way that he needs to. He knows that. We talked about it.”
The league typically takes a hard stance against anyone making contact with a game official. Earlier this season, Celtics forward Grant Williams was suspended for a game for making contact with an official when he was ejected from the fourth quarter of a loss to the Chicago Bulls in October.
Murray is averaging 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals through four games in this series for the Hawks. He is in his first season with the Hawks after being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the San Antonio Spurs last summer.
“Who starts [for Murray]? I’m not sure,” Snyder said. “Normally, historically, when one of those guards is out, you could start another guard, or you can go big. We just found all this out. We need to meet as a staff and talk about it and see what makes the most sense for us relative to our opponent.
“Dejounte, not just in this series, but over the course of the year, has been a real important part of what our team does. We’ve got to understand that contributions are going to have to come from a number of different players across the board. I don’t think you can plug and play in a situation like this. Everybody’s got to do their part.”
Across 74 games this season, Murray averaged 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists.
While still with the Spurs last season, Murray was fined $20,000 after he was ejected from a game in Memphis on Feb. 28, 2022, when he threw a ball off the legs of a referee.
If Boston wins Game 5, its series with Philadelphia will start Saturday; it will not start until Monday if Atlanta forces the first-round series to at least a sixth game. The status of 76ers superstar Joel Embiid remains in doubt for the beginning of the East semis after he suffered a right knee sprain in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets.
ESPN’s Coley Harvey contributed to this report.
Hawks’ Dejounte Murray suspended 1 game for contact with official