Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The NBA didn’t waste much time handing out their discipline from Sunday’s Game 4 altercations between the Celtics and Cavaliers.
Rod Thorn, the league’s president of basketball operations, announced that Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk was suspended one game without pay at the start of the 2015-16 season for his “arm bar” that resulted in a dislocated left shoulder for Cavs star big man Kevin Love.
The Cavaliers announced Monday that Love would miss the entire second round series with a dislocated left shoulder from the incident.
Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been suspended two games without pay for his violent arm swing that resulted in flush contact with Jae Crowder’s jaw. Crowder was stunned and momentarily knocked out. As Crowder fell to the ground, his left knee buckled and bent underneath him, resulting a sprained MCL, as the Celtics announced on Monday. Smith will serve his suspension in Games 1 and 2 of the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference semifinals when the Cavaliers host the winner of the Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks series.
That incident resulted in Crowder leaving the game and not returning. Smith was assessed with a “Flagrant 2″ foul and immediately ejected with 10:24 left in the third quarter.
Additionally, Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins‘s second quarter “Flagrant 1″ foul on a screen set on Crowder has been upgraded to a “Flagrant 2″ and he has been fined $15,000.
Smith’s incident, during which he swung his arm and made contact with the head of Celtics forward Jae Crowder, resulted in a Flagrant Foul 2 and his ejection at the 10:24 mark of the third quarter of the game.
The Celtics announced Monday that forward Jae Crowder has been diagnosed with a left ACL sprain after meeting with team physician Dr. Brian McKeon on Monday morning.
Crowder fell awkwardly on the knee after being struck in the face by Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith during Sunday’s series-ending game at TD Garden.
Smith was given a flagrant-2 foul and could face further discipline from the league as the Cavaliers prepare for the second round.
Crowder also had a run-in with Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins, who extended his arms and knocked Crowder to the floor on a pick. Perkins was given a flagrant-1 foul, and both players received technicals for the scuffle that followed the play.
Finishing the regular season with a six-game winning streak left a lot of Celtics fans hoping they would at least be able to steal a game from the Cavaliers in the first round.
Instead, those fans will have to settle for having made life difficult for four games on LeBron James and company.
That, however, is not enough to satisfy players or coaches, as they admitted after Sunday’s 101-93 season-ending loss in Game 4 at TD Garden.
“We feel like we deserve more,” Isaiah Thomas said. “We’re proud, but we’re not satisfied. We see that this team has a lot of potential, we work hard, we like playing with each other, we play extremely hard and those are the keys to success. Its frustrating to see the season end like it did, but we got to try to build from this and come back next year ready for war.”
“It’s not about individuals, we are going home, so we could care less how we played at the end of the game,” Jared Sullinger said in referencing the several second half charges the Celtics put on only to come up short. “The fact of the matter is, we didn’t get any wins, and it was a good way to, I guess, end the season but at the same time our main focus and objective was to get a win tonight and we failed.”
Now, the mission for the players who return to Boston next season is to use the experience and build for next season, as Brad Stevens suggested after the game.
“I thought the Cavs did a lot of great things,” Stevens said. “I thought their individual talents stretched our defense. And I thought that our guys responded a lot of times well, but not quite well enough to get three eight-point losses in a row, right? So, yeah, I mean, tons. You’re always trying to grow and get better, but that’s going to be the same as if we’re fortunate enough to cut down the nets some day. I wouldn’t think that would change how you would approach the next day anyways.
“I think the best way to phrase it is I like our progress but I like to win. So I’m disappointed right now. But it’s now at anybody or at myself or at any ‘ it’s just, you’re disappointed to lose. We have to get better; we have to get better in every which way, and that’s the challenge ahead. Because winning’s a lot more fun.”
Nearly every Celtics player echoed that sentiment after Game 4.
“We do take a lot of positives out of it,” Thomas said. “We know we can compete with anybody in the NBA. People counted us out and we just kept fighting, we kept believing in ourselves, we kept coming work every day with our hard hat on and working hard and doing the things that we can control. If we can do that in the summer, next training camp, next season, then we got a bright future with this group of guys.”
“It’s a very respectable group,” added center Tyler Zeller. “They tell you what they think which is nice, but they do a great job of encouraging you, putting you in the right places and just trying to give you the best opportunity where you are.”
Can this four-game series be a valuable resource down the road?
“I think it will be very important,” Zeller said. “It gives you an idea of what to prepare for. All those little things that you’ve got to take care of, you’ve got to be able to get rid of them. Regular season you can get away with them but playoffs you can’t, so it gives you kind of that initiative to always pay attention to them and always be very aware of them.”
“A lot of knowledge, the experience is huge,” Evan Turner added. “I think once again, after you grow together, we get more games and experiences under our belts and hopefully if we’re all together this time next year we’ll be in a different position, different seed and hopefully further and deeper in the playoffs.”
For all the harsh words between the players Sunday after Cleveland ended Boston’s season with a 101-93 win in Game 4, LeBron James had nothing but respect for the job coach Brad Stevens did in getting his team to play hard to the final buzzer.
After losing by 13 in the first game, the Celtics lost three straight, all by eight points. In each game, the Celtics made a late run to keep things interesting before succumbing to the better team.
“I highly respect their coaching staff and especially their head coach,” James said. “[They’re] a very well-coached team. He put those guys out there every night and put them in position to win the game and I think Brad Stevens is a very good young coach in our league.”
For a team that finished 40-42, the Celtics gave the Cavaliers about as much of a fight as could’ve been expected.
Then James spoke to what it means to have finally beaten the Celtics in the playoffs with Cleveland, after losses in 2008 and 2010.
“This franchise is one of the most winning franchises in NBA history, [along] with the Lakers,” James said. “So, everyone knows the history between the Lakers and the Celtics and what they’ve done for this league. So for me, to have a chapter in my career, multiple chapters, of playing against the Celtics, I think it’s great for the story that [the media can] tell.”
This is the second time James has sent the Celtics packing, beating them in seven games in the Eastern finals in 2012. That year, the Heat went on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, giving LeBron his first NBA title. James is now eight wins away from his fifth straight trip to the NBA finals, a goal that is clearly again on his radar.
“Our long term goal is obviously to win the championship but right now we have short term goals and that’s to prepare ourselves for the next round and get ready for the challenge that presents itself,” James said. “It was a great first test for our team. We’re a young team, we have some vets but we’re a young team together. The Celtics gave us the test that we needed. Some things that we haven’t seen in the regular season, and it will prepare us for the second round, which will be much tougher, we know that.”