The NBA is back, and the first two days had several very close, nail-biting games, which can put a smile on any sports fan’s face. Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics were involved in one of those games as they fell short of beating Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Smart was not too happy after the game, though, and ultimately sent a stern message to the referees.
The Boston Celtics-Milwaukee Bucks game went down to the wire
The No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks, opened play in the NBA bubble with a game against the No. 3-seeded Boston Celtics. It was a game that went down to the very end too.
The Bucks won 119-112 as Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists, per ESPN. Smart led the Celtics with 23 points and four rebounds. However, one call by the refs changed the game completely.
According to ESPN, with 1 minute, 28 seconds left, a charge was called on Antetokounmpo with the game tied 107-107. It not only would have given the ball back to the Boston Celtics, but Antetokounmpo would have picked up his sixth foul, which would have fouled him out. However, the referees overturned the call and changed it to a block on Smart. Antetokounmpo had made a bucket on the play, so that ended up counting, and he then went to the free-throw line.
He ultimately made the free throw to make it 110-107. Then, after the Celtics missed a 3-point attempt, the Bucks’ Khris Middleton made a 3-pointer, stretching the Bucks’ lead to 113-107. That essentially helped the Bucks coast to the 119-112 win.
Marcus Smart called out the referees after the game
Following the Celtics’ loss, Smart got asked if the refs gave him an explanation for the call that changed the game.
“Wish we got a better one,” he said, per ESPN. “The excuse was I was late on drawing the charge.”
“Quite frankly, I think we all know what that was about. It was Giannis’ sixth foul. [They] didn’t want to get him out. Let’s just call that spade a spade,” Smart said, according to ESPN.
In case you have lived under a rock the past two seasons, Antetokounmpo is the reigning league MVP. Many expect him to win his second consecutive MVP this season too. So, it might be in the NBA’s best interest to have the league’s top star playing at the end of a game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has a lot of praise for Marcus Smart
As expected, Antetokounmpo said he believed the call was correct and that Smart was moving on the play, according to ESPN.
“First of all, that’s his opinion. But at the end of the day, when I had the conversation with him, I respect him as a player,” Antetokounmpo said, according to ESPN.
He went on to praise Smart.
“I think he’s a great player. One thing I respect about him is that he’s the first guy on the floor, he trusts his teammates, he plays hard, he guards the best player. So, that’s what I told him at the end of the game,” Antetokounmpo said, per ESPN. “I said, ‘I respect you, I respect you play hard and I just play hard.’ There’s nothing more to that. I’m not coming at you, that’s not my personality.”
Antetokounmpo went on to say that he just tries to stay focused and help his team win.
“I know that he’s going to try to talk all the time and get me out of my game, and I respect that he’s doing that because he’s trying to get me out of my game. I understand. When I sit down and I calm down, I look back and I understand what he’s trying to do,” Antetokounmpo said.
He seems to have nothing but respect for Smart.
Was this a preview for the Eastern Conference Finals? It’s possible. The Bucks are loaded with Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe. The Celtics, on the other hand, have Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward. Maybe, Smart will be able to get his revenge then.