As many could have expected, the Celtics and the 76ers weren’t able to complete their NBA season opener without a little drama Tuesday night.
Joel Embiid and Marcus Smart found themselves tangled up underneath Boston’s basket shortly after the longtime rivals returned from the halftime break at TD Garden. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year maintained his reach for the basketball after the Philadelphia big man pulled down a rebound, and Embiid’s rip-through caused Smart’s arm to awkwardly bend. After falling to the parquet floor, Smart lightly grabbed Embiid’s foot, which prompted the latter to ham up the theatrics with a pretty blatant flop.
Smart sounded like he was still pretty miffed about the incident after the Celtics’ 126-117 win, understandably so considering he was the only one punished for what went down. Embiid, meanwhile, chose the coy approach when asked about the dustup.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Embiid told reporters, per USA Today. “They had called a foul and I walked away, next thing I know, my foot is getting caught up, and I slipped. Next thing, Jaylen (Brown) was on top of me and I don’t know. Basketball. Emotions, first game of the season, rivalry, Boston-Philly, a lot of intensity. It’s all good.”
Unfortunately for basketball fans, they will have to wait a while to see these heated rivals and NBA Finals contenders go at it again. The next Celtics-76ers clash this season isn’t until Feb. 8 at TD Garden.