Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart shoves confidence into Joel Embiid, 76ers

Boston Celtics Marcus Smart (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics Marcus Smart (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart lost his cool in Wednesday night’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers which probably cost the team a win.

The Boston Celtics were handling the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night until Marcus Smart showed his frustration and shoved the much bigger Joel Embiid to the floor changing momentum in the game.

With the team up 69-58 in the third quarter, Smart lost his cool and retaliated against the 76ers big man after it appeared, he hit him with a moving screen that was not called by the officials.

It wasn’t that play alone that set Smart off.  On the play previous, the Celtics guard appeared to have stripped Embiid for a steal that was called a foul on Smart.

After the shove, the two players were separated, and Smart was ejected from the game following a double-technical foul on both players. The 76ers then went on a run that eventually gave them a lead in the game.  The Celtics eventually recovered to retake control of the game heading into the fourth, but the lack of discipline Marcus Smart showed definitely changed the completion of the game.

As what typically happens in NBA games, Smart’s rejection came back to haunt the Celtics and head coach Brad Stevens expressed his disappointment in his player.

"“I’m disappointed in Marcus,” Stevens said, as transcribed by WEEI.  “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.”"

The Boston Celtics went on to lose the game 118-115 giving Philadelphia their first win over their Atlantic Division rivals in the four-game season series.  It also gave a 76ers team a sense of confidence that they can close games against the Celtics.

But, would it have happened if Smart was in the game?

As the team’s most versatile defender, there is no doubt Smart would’ve had an impact defensively heading down the stretch, especially with the clutch shots Jimmy Butler hit during the final minutes of the fourth, including a dagger in the final seconds of the game.

Still, the Boston Celtics had a chance to put the 76ers away and simply didn’t. Much of Stevens’ frustration was the lack of execution and communication on the defensive end during key moments of the final stretch of the game.  Having his best defender out there, would’ve been key to securing the win.

Smart has to play smart in big games

With the loss, the Boston Celtics are probably locked into the No. 4 or No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.  Despite their rollercoaster season, the team has proved they can beat and compete with the best teams in the league.

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To move deep in the playoffs, they need their best players playing smart basketball and that includes Marcus Smart.

While the Celtics have accepted the ebbs and flow of what comes with Smart, his value is the intensity and toughness he brings to the court.  He simply cannot have a moment like he did on Wednesday night.  Not only could it affect the team’s chance to win an important game, it could also end their season.

Speaking to the media following the game, teammate Kyrie Irving emphasized the importance of Smart and said he definitely learned from the situation.

"“He took responsibility for it,” Irving said.  “He knows how much of a big piece he is for us.  We need him out there in terms of his smarts and him being out there, being aggressive on the defensive end as well as Baynes going down battling with Joel, that was big parts of the game.  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.”"

Along with costing his team momentum in a big game, Marcus Smart also became public enemy No. 1 to Philly fans who taunted him after the shove.  Smart embraced the hate with a smile and further urged the response from the 76ers crowd by waving his hands as he departed the game.

Next. The 2018-19 Boston Celtics four-way road to redemption. dark

Certainly not a good look for a team trying to secure playoff position and consistency towards the end of an overall disappointing regular season.