Thursday, January 21, 2021

Marcus Smart rips referees, says Joel Embiid 'flails' for calls

Marcus Smart was quick to make his way to the podium following the Celtics' 117-109 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night.

Smart, who was still wearing his uniform while looking through a stat-sheet, was immediately asked about his thoughts on the foul disparity — Philadelphia shot 43 free throws to Boston's 20 and of the Sixers' 43 attempts, 21 of them were taken by superstar Joel Embiid.
"He shot — alone, himself — 21 free throws," Smart said emphatically. "Our team shot 20. Can't beat that. They shot 36 for 45, we shot 13 for 20. Hard to win that way."
The Celtics were already in the penalty midway through the fourth quarter, while Embiid and the 76ers capitalized on it -- going to the free-throw line 17 times in the final frame.
"It's tough. It is tough," Smart said of Embiid's style of play. "Especially when we've got our hands up a lot of the times, and he flails and gets the call. And then down on the other end, we've got our guys attacking the rim, getting a lot of contact and we're just not getting the whistle. It's tough to play like that. It's tough.

"If the roles were reversed I'd do it every time. I mean, I'd be on too if every time I threw my arms up, or every time I got touched I'm going to the free-throw line. I mean, it's kind of hard not to get into a rhythm that way when you shoot 21 free throws alone and they allow you to hack on the other end. It's tough, but we battled. The team did a good job. We were right there to give ourselves a win and try to run it back again on Friday."
Embiid was asked about comments made by Smart and noted that the Celtics veteran guard is also known to at times seek foul calls.
"Marcus Smart just told me that I flail a lot?" Embiid asked in his postgame presser. "Come on. I'm sure he knows himself, and he knows his game too, he does a lot of that. "And I don't think I do. I mean, if you watch basketball and if you're a student of the game and if you actually pay attention during the game, we all see. Every single foul, I get fouled."
The seven-foot All-Star big man also mentioned that others are more physical with him most of the time.
"I guess I'm just smarter than everybody else," Embiid added. "I just take advantage of it. I just take advantage of how they're guarding me. You can call that, I don't know, basketball IQ. Like, if you're going to put your hand up there, I'm going to take advantage of it and I'm going to get to the free-throw line, because I know that I'm a great free-throw shooter, and that's a better chance for me to help the team win in those situations."
Kemba Walker took a more subtle approach to the Embiid and Smart controversy, complementing the Sixers' center and advocating that he and his teammates to need to help out on defense in the middle.
"Embiid is smart, man, he knows how to get fouled," Walker said. "He understands that part of the game and he's been doing that for a while now, having guys foul him. He's a huge body. It's not much you can do but to foul him sometimes.

"We've got to help our bigs. Stopping Embiid is not a one-on-one thing. That's close to being impossible. You can stop him a few times, but you've got to count on your teammates to help stop that man."
The Celtics and 76ers square off on Friday night once again in the back-end of a two-game set in Philadelphia. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm EST on ESPN.


Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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