By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
J.R. Smith committed a blatantly dirty foul late in the Celtics' Game 2 win over the Cavaliers. And Marcus Smart, understandably, was none too pleased.
With under four minutes to go in the Celtics' 107-94 win over the Cavs, Smart brought the ball up the court and lofted it to Al Horford, who soared to the basket for an alley-oop attempts. But Smith disrupted the play by shoving Horford past the hoop while he was in mid-air, a clear Flagrant 1 foul. Horford made both free throws and scored two more points on the ensuing Celtics possession, completing the four-point swing to put the C's up 12.
Needless to say, it was an extremely ill-advised decision by Smith, not to mention a dangerous play and a selfish play at that. Smart was having none of it, getting in Smith's face after the foul and speaking candidly about it after the game.
"[Horford's] a defenseless person, he's in the air," Smart said. "He can't control how his body goes. He's not even looking, and you go and take two hands to his back. That's a dirty shot. You just can't allow that to keep happening. It's not the first time J.R.'s done some dirty stuff, especially playing against us.
"It's like a bully. You keep letting a bully keep picking on you, he's gonna keep picking on you until you finally stand up. One of my guys was down, and I took offense to it."
— WBZ Boston Sports (@wbzsports) May 16, 2018
Smith has a history of dirty tactics, and Smart's right that this isn't the first time it's happened against the Celtics. Smart was probably thinking of the Celtics and Cavs' first-round playoff series in 2015, when Smith blatantly backhanded Jae Crowder across the face while they tangled under the basket. And this was vicious - you can hear the thing on the game broadcast:
On the play against Horford, Smith couldn't deny what he did. The question is whether he realizes how dumb and dangerous it was.
"It was a good call," Smith said of the Flagrant 1. "I blatantly pushed [Horford]. It wasn't like I was trying to low-bridge him or something. I just wanted to make sure he didn't get it. It was a good, hard foul. I understand why they gave me a flag there."
What Smith did certainly was not just a "good, hard foul." You can quibble over how much force he put into the shove, but there's no debating that was blatantly dirty and unnecessary. Good on Smart for jumping to his teammate's defense.
Oh, and by the way ... Smart had one of his best games as a Celtic in the process. He led the team with a plus-21 rating and made #WinningPlays up and down the court, especially in the fourth quarter.
J.R. Smith? Zero points on 0-for-7 shooting. And one costly foul. That's what you call the polar opposite of Smart. Losing plays.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].