BOSTON — As the Cleveland Cavaliers turn their focus toward the second round of the NBA playoffs, they await word on whether they’ll have the services of J.R. Smith when Game 1 of that series rolls around.
Smith was ejected Sunday from Cleveland’s Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics after he caught Celtics forward Jae Crowder in the face with a spinning backhand. Crowder went down in a heap, suffering what the team announced was a sprained left knee. He did not return.
The cheap shot earned Smith a flagrant 2 foul and an ejection, and a suspension could be forthcoming. To Celtics guard Evan Turner, banning Smith for at least one game is the only logical choice.
“I mean, he for sure should (be suspended),” Turner said after the Cavs’ 101-93 win at TD Garden. “That was just dumb.”
Smith’s smack was the second illegal shot Crowder took in a span of less than four minutes. Cavs reserve forward Kendrick Perkins was slapped with a flagrant 1 foul late in the second half after leveling Crowder with a hard screen, and both players picked up technical fouls for their roles in the minor scuffle that ensued.
Perkins, a member of the 2008 Celtics championship team who typically is beloved in his returns to Boston, was roundly booed for the rest of the game.
Physical play was the norm throughout Games 3 and 4, but Turner believed those two plays crossed the line.
“I don’t know if it was crazy physical,” he said. “Those were cheap shots. There’s no such thing as physicality when you’re throwing cheap shots. It was a girly move, and that was it. I’m not going to indulge in that.”
Smith averaged 10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game in the series as Cleveland’s starting shooting guard. He called the incident with Crowder an accident and said he was “nervous as hell” about the potential for a suspension.
Some additional notes from the Celtics’ final game of the 2014-15 season:
— The severity of Crowder’s injury still was unknown as of Sunday night, pending the results of an MRI.
— The Celtics rallied from a 21-point halftime deficit to get to within six in the game’s final minute. Forward Jared Sullinger scored 11 second-half points (of his 21 total) to help lead that charge, but he was far from satisfied with the outcome.
“It’s not about individuals,” Sullinger said. “We are going home, so we could care less how we played at the end of the game. The fact of the matter is, we didn’t get any wins, and it was a good way to, I guess, end the season, but at the same time, our main focus and objective was to get a win (Sunday), and we failed.”
Isaiah Thomas, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, offered a similar take on the Celtics’ four-game series sweep at the hands of the Cavs.
“We feel like we deserve more,” the point guard said. “We’re proud, but we’re not satisfied.”
— Three of the four games in the series were decided by fewer than 10 points (eight, to be exact). The last time that happened in a first-round sweep was 2012, when the No. 2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder knocked off the No. 7 seed Dallas Mavericks.
— Brandon Bass threw down an emphatic put-back dunk on the first possession following the Crowder injury — the highlight of an otherwise forgettable series for the Boston big man.
— The Rock was in the house.
(@NBA) April 26, 2015
— Celtics assistant coach Ronald Nored, who also played under Stevens at Butler, is leaving the team to join the coaching staff at Northern Kentucky, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Ronald Nored hired as an assistant by new Northern Kentucky head coach John Brannen, sources told ESPN. Love this hire of ex-Butler PG.—
Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 26, 2015
— Turner, who has been the most talkative man in the building since he arrived in Boston last summer, was the final Celtics player to leave the locker room after the loss. He concluded his nearly 20-minute-long media session by telling reporters to “keep it classy” before strolling out the door.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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