Even though Boston has taken a 2-0 series lead against the Cavs it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of drama left in this series. At the very least, rising tensions between Marcus Smart and J.R. Smith are worth keeping an eye on.
Smart took serious exception to J.R. Smith’s foul on Al Horford in the second half. In fairness to Smart, the replay showed he had every right to be upset. Smith pushed Horford in the back with two hands as the big man was jumping towards the basket. Horford escaped injury on the play but it’s exactly the sort of foul that can really harm a player.
Smart reacted immediately to the incident on the floor. He rushed in to confront Smith and earned a technical for his efforts. Predictably, Smart was celebrated by the Celtics crowd while Smith was met with some colorful language by Boston supporters.
Celtics' Marcus Smart points finger at Cavaliers' J.R. Smith after hard foul on Al Horford: "That's a dirty shot. You can't allow that to keep happening. That's not the first time J.R. has done some dirty stuff. He's known for it." pic.twitter.com/Sio1f7Ew31
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 16, 2018
Things didn’t end there though. Smart took to the post-game press conference to make his feelings about Smith abundantly clear. He called the play a “dirty shot” and went on to state his belief that Smith is known for those sorts of plays.
You can safely expect Smart to be public enemy number one as the series arrives in Cleveland. His comments may endear him to his own teammates and fans, but the Cavaliers and their supporters are going to view things much differently. Smart should be the subject of serious boos in Game 3.
Of course, if the Cavs don’t play better basketball it isn’t going to matter. LeBron James and company will return home with their backs to the wall. It’s dangerous to bet against LeBron in these sorts of situations, but simple math tells you the Celtics hold a strong advantage in the series.
At the very least, it will be interesting to see if the conflict with Smart can get Smith going. He was held scoreless in Game 2 after going 0-for-7 from the field. Perhaps Smart’s comments to the media can get the Cavaliers wing going. They’re going to need him to get back in this series.