Not once, but twice Giannis Antetokounmpo narrowly dodged fouling out Friday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks star had a pair of calls that would have marked his sixth foul of the night overturned, and it allowed him to stay in and ultimately sink the Celtics in Boston’s 119-112 loss to the Bucks in the first seeding round game.
At 2:30, Antetokounmpo collided with Daniel Theis, but a review determined it wasn’t a “hostile act”.
Then a minute laster, with the game tied at 107, Jayson Tatum overcommitted defensively at the 3-point line, allowing Antetokounmpo to break free and drive to the net. Smart stepped up, got his feet just out of the restricted area and got mowed over by the power forward. An offensive foul was called, which would’ve signaled the end of Antetokounmpo’s night and kept the game tied.
But a review determined Smart didn’t have his feet set, so he got called for a blocking foul. Antetokounmpo had made the layup on the drive, so that counted and he got, and executed, a free throw to put the Bucks up 110-107.
Asked about the call, Smart, per usual, did not mince words.
“Wish we got a better (explanation),” Smart said. “The excuse was I was late on the charge. They said the replay said I was late and it was a block, but quite frankly I think we all know what that was about: Giannis with six fouls, they didn’t want to get him out. We’ll just call that spade a spade, that’s just what it is.”
Smart has been fined before for being critical of referees, and while he might not necessarily be wrong, it wouldn’t be surprising if he got a call from the league about those remarks.