The Heat rallied Thursday night to take a 2-0 series lead over the Celtics, but the real action was after the game in Boston’s locker room. Malika Andrews of ESPN and Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe both sent out a series of tweets describing angry exchanges and the sound of things being thrown, with much of the yelling coming from Celtics guard Marcus Smart, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Smart, a fiery leader both on and off the court, was reacting after his team let a double-digit lead slip away for the second straight game in the conference finals. Boston led by 17 points in the first half and held an eight-point edge early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold off Miami.
Afterward, a Celtics assistant coach and a team security official mistakenly opened the locker room door and let reporters hear the raw emotions inside. It took nearly 30 minutes before the media were given access to players, Amick adds.
Much of the commotion involved a confrontation between Smart and Jaylen Brown, who had to be separated by teammates, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Sources tell Charania that Smart came into the locker room complaining that he gets too much blame when things go wrong and saying that other players need to be held accountable as well. As Smart got louder, Brown responded that the players needed to stick together and told Smart to calm down. Sources also noted that Smart had verbal confrontations with assistant coaches during the game.
Sources confirmed that objects were thrown in the exchange between Smart and Brown, but teammates were able to separate them before the dispute turned physical. A source said they have already smoothed things over and are focusing on Game 3.
Brown downplayed the incident when talking to reporters, saying Smart was just trying to motivate the team for the rest of the series.
“A lot of emotions flying around,” Brown said. “I think that’s why we love Marcus. You know, he plays with passion, he’s full of fire, and that’s what I love about him most, to be honest. He has that desire and will, and we need him to continue to have that. It’s ups and downs with families all the time, but we embrace each other for who we are. And who Marcus is, I love him for it. So you’ve got to get ready to come back, take that same fire, (and) add it to Game 3.”