BOSTON — J.R. Smith claimed he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, but he’s worried the NBA league office might not see it that way.
Smith’s status for the start of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ second-round playoff series is in question after he was ejected in Sunday’s Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics. Smith and Celtics guard Jae Crowder were battling underneath the basket when Smith swung his arm and hit Crowder’s face. The referees reviewed the incident on replay and determined it was a flagrant 2 foul, which results in an automatic ejection.
“He was cutting into the lane after the shot had been shot, I tried to box him out,” Smith said of the play, after which Crowder left the game with a sprained knee and did not return. “As I’m boxing him out, I just kept feeling is forearm on my head. Tried to keep backing up, but he kept pushing. Unfortunately, I tried to swing my arm loose thinking it was the best way to get my arm up in position to rebound and we made contact.
“There was nothing malicious about it. I didn’t try to do anything to hurt him or anybody else. That’s not the way I play the game and unfortunately I got a flagrant 2. I let my teammates down. We still advance, but it’s still not a good feeling going into the next round.”
Smith was suspended for an incident in the playoffs against the Celtics in 2013 when he was with the New York Knicks. He also was suspended one game earlier this season for hitting Washington Wizards forward Glen Rice Jr. in the groin.
The veteran guard said he was “nervous as hell to see what could come out of this” in regard to a possible suspension from the NBA.
“For one, I’ve been in this situation before in the playoffs,” Smith said. “It’s not a good feeling to go into a new team, new situation and feeling like things were on the up and up, and to be quote-unquote ‘back in this situation again,’ it’s nothing I want to happen.”
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images
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