Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

J.R. Smith has long history of dirty plays against Celtics

Alex Reimer
May 16, 2018 - 12:03 pm

J.R. Smith’s cheap shot on Al Horford wasn’t the first time the erratic guard has crossed the line against the Celtics. He deserves every bit of profane scorn the Garden crowd, and Marcus Smart, directed at him in the closing minutes of Boston’s Game 2 victory Tuesday night.

With 3:49 left in the fourth quarter, Smith shoved Horford from behind while he was in the air. The dirty play jeopardized Horford’s wellbeing, making it even more egregious. That prompted Marcus Smart to get in Smith’s face and challenge him right there on the court. After the game, Smart said Smith was asking for it. 

"That's not the first time JR has done some dirty stuff, especially playing against us," Smart told reporters, including WEEI's John Tomase. "He's known for it, especially playing against us. We know that. So, you know, it's like a bully: You keep letting a bully keep picking on you, he's going to pick on you until you finally stand up, and that's what I tried to do. One of my guys was down, and I took offense to it.”

Smart is absolutely right. Smith’s history of flagrant fouls against the Celtics dates back to April 2013, when the NBA suspended him one game for elbowing guard Jason Terry in the face. 

Two years later, Smith struck again, smacking Jae Crowder in the face during Game 4 of the Celtics-Cavs first-round series. While the hit may have been retribution for Kevin Love’s shoulder injury –– the All-Star got tangled up with Kelly Olynyk while battling for a loose ball ––Smith was ejected from the contest. Crowder also hurt his knee on the way down. 

With Smith’s history in mind, it’s laughable that Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue would accuse the Celtics of “gooning it up.” The Celtics play physical defense on every possession. Smith, meanwhile, missed all seven of his shots and then shoved Horford from behind. That’s the definition of “goon” behavior. 

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