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J.R. Smith of the Cavaliers and Marcus Smart of the Celtics had a scuffle in the first quarter in the 113-102 preseason win by Cleveland on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
However, the postgame war of words was much more entertaining than the dustup (more on that in a bit), which began with Smith and Aron Baynes before Smart became involved and was ejected.
“For a guy who wants to be so tough in this situation, he leads the league in flops,” Smith told reporters. “You can’t flop as much as you do and then be tough. How does that even work? And then you start slinging your teammates. Like, you didn’t come to play basketball today. Your coach told you you gotta play and you was frustrated, and then you try to take it out on somebody else.
“At the end of the day, I’m not going to sit here and lose money over trying to fight Marcus Smart. I’m not going to lose money over my tattoo, so why would I lose it over him.”
Marcus Smart and JR Smith trying to fight after Smith grapples with Aron Baynes. pic.twitter.com/Tkr1yQaOC5
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) October 6, 2018
The skirmish began with 3:38 to play in the first quarter — while Smith had been in his first preseason action for 38 seconds — when Smith was attempting to front the 6-foot-10, 265-pound Baynes in the post.
Baynes locked Smith’s arm and executed two hip tosses to perfection, while not releasing Smith, who then pushed Baynes with two hands in the chest.
Smart then ran toward Smith from behind and shoved him, though missing on a punch aimed at Smith’s head. While Smith laughed, Smart attempted to battle through teammates Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, who finally tackled Smart near the sideline.
Smart was tossed, prompting Smith to smile and wave good-bye, using a chatterbox gesture to do so. Smart reacted by pointing away, toward the back of the arena.
“Fine with me,” Smart said. “I’m not too worried about it. I did the action. Whatever consequences come with it, come with it.”
He explained his intent with his point while being escorted off the court.
“I told him to come back to the back,” he said. “All that on the court? We can handle that off of the court,” Smart said. “I ain’t with that.”
Smith took to his Twitter account to respond to Smart’s comments.
Meet me on street damn the back!! https://t.co/oP2jsVcyUc
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) October 7, 2018
Smart’s voice broke slightly while talking about the incident.
“That’s on my mama. May she rest in peace,” he said. “Ain’t no punk right here. On my mama, may she rest in peace.
“So whatever happens happens. J.R. knows where I’m at. Everybody knows where I’m at. It is what it is.”
Smart’s mother passed away in September after a courageous battle with cancer, but when questioned about his emotions, Smart insisted he was “the same me.”