BOSTON — Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart didn’t mince words when describing J.R. Smith’s flagrant foul on Al Horford late in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Cleveland Cavaliers guard dangerously hit Horford while the Celtics center was in the air. Horford went crashing to the ground but was OK. His five quick points after the play helped the Celtics secure a 107-94 win and a 2-0 series lead.
Smart immediately went over to Smith to stand up for his teammate and exchanged shoves with the Cavs veteran before teammates and the referees pulled them apart.
“We’re out there to play basketball,” Smart said. “And I just looked at it, Al is in a defenseless position. He’s in the air. He can’t control how his body goes, and he’s not even looking, and you go and take two hands to the back. That’s a dirty shot.
“You just can’t allow that to keep happening. That’s not the first time JR has done some dirty stuff, especially playing against us. We know that. It’s like a bully, you keep letting the bully keep picking on you, he’s going to pick on you until you finally stand up, and that’s what I tried to do. One of my guys went down and I took offense to it.”
Smith might’ve been lucky to avoid a flagrant 2 foul and an ejection on the play. Smart received a technical foul for his actions.
It’s possible Smith could face further discipline from the NBA for his cheap play, but no reports have surfaced as of this writing. He told reporters after the game the referees made the correct call on the floor.
Smith was suspended two games in Cleveland’s first-round series versus Boston in 2015 for hitting then-Celtics forward Jae Crowder in the face with his hand on the baseline.
This series already is quite physical, and we should expect more of the same when the action shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 on Saturday.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports
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