The Boston Celtics were blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-102, in their last exhibition game before the regular season begins on October 16th. Here are the biggest takeaways from the game.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens called out his players before their final preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
With Irving and Hayward sitting out, Boston went back to its starting lineup from the playoffs–Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Aron Baynes–but couldn’t rekindle the flames of last season.
Playing in his home state, Rozier took four of the Celtics first five shots, but only made one. Rozier’s impatience set the tone for Boston, which opened the game my missing 8-of-12 field goals.
Cleveland jumped out to an 11-4 lead right out of the gates and led by as many as 21 points.
As in their first meeting Tuesday, Cleveland controlled the game from start to finish as, once again, Boston did not lead at any point during the game.
Rozier and Marcus Morris led the Celtics with 17 points apiece, while former Celtics center Ante Zizic scored a team-high 20 points for the Cavaliers. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton continued to impress for Cleveland, leading the team in plus/minus and making both of his three-point attempts on his way to 13 points.
Marcus Smart Ejected
If there was any hope that Boston would turn the momentum of the game around, they were squashed when Celtics spark plug Marcus Smart was ejected for shoving JR Smith and chasing him around the court near the end of the first quarter.
With 3:40 remaining in the first period, Smith locked arms with Celtics center Aron Baynes while fighting for a rebound. One the video, it appears like Smith won’t release his hold on Baynes, until Baynes throws Smith off.
Then, Smith shoves Baynes hard in the chest, and Smart takes exception to the shot, charging in from behind to get in on the action. Smart pushed Smith in the back before moving in for a haymaker, but Jayson Tatum saved Smart from himself, and a potential suspension, by tackling Smart from behind.
In a nutshell, Smart’s attack may seem like an overreaction, but his distaste of Smith has history, dating back to two dirty plays by Smith in prior playoff matchups. In the 2015 first round playoff series, Smith was suspended for two games after connecting on a brutal spinning back-fist to Jae Crowder‘s head, buckling the former Celtic and spraining his MCL with the cheap shot, knocking him out for the postseason.
In last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Smith two-hand shoved Al Horford in the back when the Celtics center was leaping in the air for an alley-oop. Smart came to Horford’s then just as he came to Baynes’ defense Saturday.
The moral of the story? JR Smith is and always will be a jester and a cheap shot artist, and Smart will always protect his teammates.