The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers played Saturday night in a preseason rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals, and it wasn’t long before some of last season’s postseason animosity emerged.
With 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first quarter, a scuffle broke out between the teams that resulted in the ejection of Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
Cavaliers guard JR Smith and Celtics forward Aron Baynes became entangled in the paint, locking elbows and shoving each other.
Smart then got involved, coming toward Smith and pushing him. While a referee restrained Smith, Smart’s teammates Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier held him back — or, in the case of Tatum, wrestled Smart to the ground.
Smith made a “chatterbox” motion with his hands, smiling, while Smart appeared to point away as he walked off the court.
Referees levied double technicals on Smart and Smith, while Smith and Baynes received double personal fouls. Smith stayed in the game, but Smart was ejected, making a gesture as he exited the court.
Smart was emotional speaking to reporters after the game. He said he was never told why he was ejected and brushed it off.
“Fine with me,” Smart said. “I’m not too worried about it. I did the action. Whatever consequences come with it, come with it.”
Smith told reporters after the game, “At the end of the day, I’m not going to sit here and lose money over trying to fight Marcus Smart. I’m not going to lose money over my tattoo, so why would I lose it over him?”
Smart also explained that the gesture he made while exiting the court was directed toward Smith “to meet me in the back.”
“I told him to come back to the back. All that on the court? We can handle that off of the court,” Smart said. “I ain’t with that.”
After the game, Smith took to Twitter to respond to Smart’s remarks.
Smart became emotional while discussing Saturday night’s incident. His voice breaking slightly, he said: “That’s on my mama. May she rest in peace. Ain’t no punk right here. On my mama, may she rest in peace.
“So whatever happens happens. JR knows where I’m at. Everybody knows where I’m at. It is what it is.”
Smart’s mother died in September after a battle with cancer, but when asked about his emotions, Smart insisted he was “the same me.”