PHILADELPHIA — Celtics guard Marcus Smart voiced his frustrations with the officiating after 76ers star Joel Embiid took 21 free throws in his team’s win over Boston on Wednesday.
Smart said that he would have high-scoring games such as Embiid’s, too, if every time he was touched, or threw his arms in the air as if he had been, it resulted in a trip to the foul line.
Embiid laughed off Smart’s comments Wednesday. And before these teams met for their rematch on Friday, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers had his own quip when asked about Smart’s comments given the Celtics’ guard’s own history of, well, accentuating contact.
“Well, I think Marcus is an expert at that, so he would definitely know if Joel is doing it,” said Rivers, the former Celtics coach. “That’s all I would say. One thing I know is that great actors know great actors. They always have.”
Stevens a fan multi-game stops
In an effort to reduce traveling amid the COVIID-19 pandemic, the NBA scheduled two-game series such as this set between Boston and Philadelphia. The Celtics have now played two-game sets in Indianapolis, Detroit, and Philadelphia, and the Magic came to Boston for a series, too, a couple weeks ago, but the first game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said at the start of the year he was a proponent of the shift, and he reiterated Friday that this should be the approach when possible, even after the pandemic has passed.
“I think it’s great,” Stevens said. “It makes so much more sense to stay in one city, to not have to come back to Philly on separate occasions, to not have to go back to Detroit, Indy on separate occasions. I just think that makes so much more sense from a product standpoint, makes more sense from a performance standpoint, certainly travel, saving legs. I understand the challenge of sometimes national TV and tickets with that but I do think all in all, it’s a plus.”
Tatum working his way back
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum on Friday missed his third consecutive game as he works back into shape after being sidelined for COVID-19 protocols, but could return Sunday against the Cavaliers.
Tatum tested positive for the virus on Jan. 9 and the Celtics had their next three games postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. He exited the protocol on Wednesday but has been ramping up his conditioning in Boston in recent days. Stevens said Tatum would complete another workout on Saturday before his status for Sunday’s game is determined.
Rookie wing Aaron Nesmith missed Friday’s game due to back spasms. Stevens said Nesmith tweaked his back while doing some drills on Thursday but added that he is likely to be back soon.