Celtics’ Marcus Smart on dustup with Joel Embiid: ‘Could have cracked his head open, but I didn’t’
The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers kicked off the 2022-2023 NBA season Tuesday night at TD Garden arena, and things quickly got chippy between the two Eastern Conference contenders.
At the start of the third quarter, 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and Philadelphia center Joel Embiid got entangled under the basket, leading to Smart’s arm being yanked by Embiid.
Smart, who quickly got off the floor to confront Embiid, said after the game that Embiid tried to break his arm. Smart said he showed maturity by not retaliating against the Sixer.
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“Went for a rebound, basketball play,” Smart said after the game. “Went for the steal, basketball play. Referee calls a foul, I stop play, my arms still stuck in there, and he tries to break it. And I’m the only one that gets a tech [technical foul].
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“Like I said, It’s maturity,” Smart continued. “I could have cracked his head open, but I didn’t. And that’s the maturity we have.”
Jaylen Brown, who rushed to Smart’s defense after the play, told reporters that the Celtics aren’t “taking no mess this year.”
“It seemed like he was trying to hurt Smart in that sense,” Brown said after the game. “Instincts just came right over. Ended up being nothing. Ended up being a play on. Nobody got hurt.
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“We just ended up finishing the game, played some good basketball. We got each other’s backs out there and we not taking no mess this year.”
Boston went on to beat Philadelphia following the third-quarter altercation, outscoring the Sixers 63-54 in the second half.
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Smart finished the game with 14 points, three rebounds, and seven assists while Brown scored 35 points on 14-24 shooting from the field.