ESPN broadcaster and former Indiana coach Dan Dakich offered harsh criticism of Allen on the broadcast, calling Allen’s history of aggressive play “just tiring.”
“I mean, let’s be honest,” Dakich said on the air after the first foul. “Duke defended him ad nauseam, enabled him, and now it continues. And, truthfully, it’s just exhausting.”
After he missed two foul shots in the fourth quarter, Allen set up on defense. He is then seen pushing Williams from behind after Williams attempted to set a screen on him. Referee Ray Acosta issued Allen his first flagrant foul for unnecessary contact.
After Williams shot two foul shots resulting from Allen’s transgression, Boston set up a play in which Williams again screened Allen under the basket to open himself up. As Williams went up for the shot, Allen turned and hit him from behind.
“Just get him out of this game. Now,” Dakich said after the play. “I don’t even think he was swinging at the ball. I’m telling you. This infuriates me.”
Allen appeared confused by the call, saying, “That’s the ball.” Williams, who told reporters he was laughing at the incident “a little bit,” was smiling after the second foul and appeared unfazed.
“I joke around because where I grew up is different. So I was like, ‘Let me relax and go on and keep playing, just what my team needs,’ ” Williams said after the game.
Allen, acquired from the Jazz as part of a trade that sent Mike Conley to Utah, developed a reputation while playing for the Blue Devils. In 2016, he was reprimanded by the ACC for two tripping incidents that occurred close to each other and was suspended for a game for his dirty play. Last summer, Allen initiated a similarly aggressive shove against Atlanta’s Trae Young. In his first NBA season, Allen averaged 5.6 points in 38 games, making two starts.
Thursday’s incident did not faze Williams, who called Allen a “competitor” and said he didn’t “take anything personally.”
“I’ve always thought of it as you wind up in the game, things like that happen,” Williams said. “So you respect him; he’s a talented player. He’s a guy who did really great things at Duke. He’s good friends with a couple of my friends, so I didn’t take it personally. It was just a matter of competing on the court.”