It was only one week ago when Brad Stevens was referring to Marcus Smart’s meditation skills as a joke when trying to diffuse the aftermath of the Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris bench scuffle in Miami.
“I looked at Smart breaking it up, and talk about growth, holy smokes,” Stevens said with a smile. “I thought he’d be in the middle of one of those. That was pretty good. You guys all looked at it as a negative, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Just one week later, we saw exactly why Smart’s role as a peacemaker came as such a surprise to the head coach. The fifth-year guard blew his fuse in the third quarter of Saturday’s win over the Hawks, charging DeAndre Bembry after earning his second technical foul of the night.
Wonder what was said here because this escalated quickly from Marcus Smart and DeAndre' Bembry talking, to double techs, to Smart making a run for Bembry and getting ejected. pic.twitter.com/SSW2FQgpqw
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) January 20, 2019
It was a situation that has been escalating for Smart from the opening minutes of the third quarter. Smart had earned a technical foul with 9:01 remaining while the Celtics played on the possession after picking up a couple quick (questionable) personal fouls on defense.
Less than two minutes later, Smart lost it after exchanging pleasantries with DeAndre Bembry before a jump ball. Officials whistled Smart and Bembry for a double technical, which caused eventually led Smart to charge him, according to Bembry. Smart did not speak with reporters after the game.
Bembry on Smart: “That’s what he does. You obviously see him doing that plenty of times. It happens. I just tried to keep my cool. I’m trying to win the game.”
Also said Smart lost his cool after the referee told him he was ejected.
— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) January 20, 2019
On the surface, the ejection was a blemish on what has easily been Smart’s best season to date. His ability to stay composed (outside of the J.R. Smith eruption during the preseason) has allowed him to become someone that Brad Stevens can count on more and more as the year has progressed. However, this particular situation was one that the head coach couldn’t even defend.
“I need to go back and watching it before I react to it. From what I saw, obviously he deserved to be ejected,” Stevens said. “I don’t know what was said, I haven’t asked him, I haven’t talked to him about it, but obviously there’s league punishment for that type of stuff and you can’t react that way.”
The fact that Smart did not receive a suspension in the preseason for the Smith squabble is a good sign