The Cleveland Cavaliers started to lose control at the end of their Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Down by eight points with just under four minutes remaining, the Cavaliers needed a stop. Instead, they unraveled. As Marcus Smart and Al Horford ran a pick-and-roll, Horford rolled to the rim looking for the lob from Smart.
As he was in midair, on his way to an alley-oop slam, J.R. Smith shoved Horford in the back, sending him crashing to the ground. It was a very dangerous play, and Smith was hit with a Flagrant 1 foul. In addition, Smith and Marcus Smart were each given a technical foul after Smart confronted the Cavs guard for the dirty play.
Marcus Smart defending his teammate Al Horford, after the push by Smith on Horford. pic.twitter.com/ZRf0BYoCQk
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) May 16, 2018
The flagrant gave Horford two shots and the Celtics the ball back. Horford hit both of the free throws, then on the ensuing possession went reverse for a bucket that pushed the Celtics’ lead up to 12.
Marcus Smart took exception to a shove from JR Smith on Al Horford. pic.twitter.com/wKFqBeQE2L
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 16, 2018
That sequence essentially ended the Cavs’ hopes of a comeback. In the end, the Celtics won by 13 — 104-97 — to take a surprising 2-0 series lead.
After the game, Smart said Smith’s play was a “dirty shot” and added that it wasn’t the first time Smith has done something like that
— NBA (@NBA) May 16, 2018
Marcus Smart talks about JR Smith's foul on Al Horford: "That's a dirty shot. You can't allow that to keep happening. That's not the first time JR has done some dirty stuff. He's known for it." pic.twitter.com/tnSptIWYvT
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) May 16, 2018
Smith, for his part, said it was the right call to give him a flagrant