The Celtics are not mad at Marcus Smart, they’re just disappointed.
Frustrated with an uncalled Joel Embiid elbow to his ribs, the fiery Smart responded with a shove that sent Embiid flying forward and to the deck at the Wells Fargo Center, and got him kicked out of a 118-115 loss to the 76ers.
“I’m disappointed in Marcus,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted after the loss. “Like, we need you; Baynes is already out. We need him to be in the game. No matter what happens, we need that to happen. I already said it in the locker room but especially, again, with Baynes out, we needed him out there.”
With Smart out for the final 25 minutes of Wednesday’s game, the Sixers outscored the Celtics 60-46, and it really wasn’t until Jimmy Butler’s fourth-quarter beast mode that the Celtics really missed having a defender as tenacious as Smart.
It was in that frame that the Celtics undoubtedly could have used Smart, as Butler went 5-for-8 for 15 points, and sealed the deal on a Philly win when Kyrie Irving was unable to come through with the late-game stop to keep the Boston deficit at three.
“[Smart] took responsibility for it,” Irving said. “We don’t want to make any excuses, those things can’t happen in terms of Smart being ejected, especially when we’re in an environment like this.”
This is not the first time that the Celtics have dealt with a Smart blow-up this season, of course, as the fifth-year Celtic was also booted from a Jan. 19 meeting with the Hawks.
But the Celtics know that this is part of the deal with Smart, and what can also make him such a weapon for the Green.
“Don’t get it wrong– we love all that Marcus is,” noted Stevens. “And part of Marcus is his fire. A time or two a year, it gets the best of him but this is just a reminder of how important he is. He knows how we all feel and he knows we all love him.
“That’s just part of it, it’s part of a long season.”