BOSTON — The Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers came away from Sunday’s game with very different opinions on one of the afternoon’s most important plays.
Celtics center Kelly Olynyk got tangled up with Cavs forward Kevin Love during a first-quarter battle for a rebound, causing Love to suffer a dislocated shoulder. Love, whose status for the Eastern Conference semifinals now is in jeopardy, said he believed Olynyk intended to injure him on the play, calling the move “bush-league.”
Olynyk didn’t address the media after the game, which Cleveland won 101-93 to finish off a four-game sweep of the first-round playoff series, but other members of the Celtics organization argued the second-year big had no ill intentions.
“I did not see it live,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought it was two guys locking each other. But I thought the foul call was correct on Kelly. I can’t imagine there was any negative intent on Kelly — that’s not the type of person he is. And I hope Kevin’s okay to play, whenever they play next. Because you want everybody out there to finish the game. You want the best players on the court, for both teams, all the time.”
Guard Evan Turner agreed with his coach, saying Olynyk’s awkward positioning was the result of poor technique, not malicious intent.
“Literally, if you ask anyone in our locker room, Kelly can’t box out to save his life,” Turner said. “No joke. He boxes out teammates like that all the time in practice.
“Kelly doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. We saw a play that looks bad, but Kelly’s not that type of dude. … It’s a tough play, you hate to see (Love) go down. You hate to see anybody get hurt, but at the end of the game, we’re not trying to hurt anybody. The guy who did it isn’t a malicious individual at all.”
UPDATE (11:50 p.m.): Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald caught up with Olynyk to get his take on the play and Love’s comments.
“That’s ridiculous,” Olynyk told the Herald. “I would never intentionally hurt Kevin or anyone else. He locked my arm up, I locked up his as we were fighting for a loose ball. You lock up arms all the time in this league.”
Olynyk said he had unsuccessfully tried to reach out to Love through mutual contacts.
“I wish him a very speedy recovery,” Olynyk said, “and I hope he can come back to help his team in the playoffs.”
Thumbnail photo via Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer via Associated Press
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