BROOKLYN – In the thick of a tight playoff race and with bodies succumbing to injury by the day, Boston couldn't afford to lose any more players. Marcus Smart's one-game suspension for a low blow to Spurs forward Matt Bonner made that reality all the more frustrating.
Smart—who sat out the Celtics 105-97 loss to Detroit on Sunday—was contrite before Boston’s game against the Nets on Monday night.
“It’s been crazy, trying to prepare for tonight’s game knowing we should have won the game last night,” Smart said. “It’s been a little up and down for me.”
Smart said he has reviewed the play and while he maintains it was not intentional, he can see why the NBA issued the suspension.
“I looked at it, I can definitely see [the decision],” Smart said. “I can definitely see how the decision was made. I got to live with it. Looking at the film, it does look a little intentional. But like I said before, that’s not who I am. I’m not a dirty player. But looking at the film, I can see where that comes into play. The NBA made the right decision with the one-game suspension.”
On Sunday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he hoped Smart had learned something from the suspension.
"Hopefully it's an isolated incident and we move on from it,” Stevens said. "But we said it the other night: I felt like, after watching it again before I talked to the media, and having seen it, it was clearly an unacceptable play. As I said the other night, it's as simple as that.”
Smart agreed with a reporter when asked if he needed to find a balance between playing hard and crossing the line with his physicality.
“I think everyone does,” Smart said. “You don’t find too many players in this league that still play that hard. It’s something I take pride in, playing hard. In the flow of games, things happen. That’s just the way it is.”
Smart, who was ejected from a game against Orlando earlier this month for throwing an elbow at Magic guard Elfrid Payton, says he is not concerned about developing a reputation as a dirty player.
“Not at all,” Smart said. “I know I’m not. My coach and my team know I’m not a dirty player. I’m a physical player, no doubt about that. But a dirty one, that’s not in my reputation.”