BOSTON (CBS) — Things got pretty chippy the last time the Celtics and Cavaliers crossed paths.
The last encounter of the two teams came in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last April, a series that ended in a four-game sweep by the Cavs. But that wasn’t without some bumps and bruises, and season-ending injuries, for both sides.
The more famous of the two was Kelly Olynyk ending Kevin Love’s playoff run with a yank of his left shoulder while going for a rebound. While Love was pretty fired up in the weeks after the injury, calling the play “bush league” on Olynyk’s part, the forward has since accepted Olynyk’s apology and the two are “all good.”
The same can’t be said for Jae Crowder and J.R. Smith.
Crowder’s season also came to an end early thanks to a hit to the face from Smith. Crowder suffered a sprained MCL as he fell to the floor, and had to spend the beginning of the offseason rehabbing from the injury.
Smith was ejected and the league suspended him for two games for the hit, but Crowder said he’s never received an apology from the Cleveland guard. He’s hoping to get that Tuesday when the Cavaliers return to Boston for the first time since the postseason.
“I hope he apologizes tomorrow,” Crowder said Monday morning ahead of Boston’s practice. “To be honest with you, I hope it wasn’t intentional. But if he doesn’t, then we’ll play ball.”
Further pressed, with the phrase “cheap shot” thrown into the line of questioning, Crowder wouldn’t bite.
“I hope he apologizes tomorrow,” Crowder said. “But if he doesn’t, we’ll play ball.”
Eight months later and the blood is still boiling between these two teams. That should make for another fun game at the Garden, as the Celtics host the top team in the Eastern Conference.
While Crowder will likely find himself boxing out against Smith at some point, his main focus will be guarding LeBron James. He handled those duties as well as anyone could last postseason, and is looking forward to getting another shot on Tuesday night.
“[He’s] one of the best players in our league; you have to be up for the challenge and I certainly am. I think everyone on our team is up for the challenge with those guys,” said Crowder. “You have to be ready every possession because he can get it going at any time.”
While the Celtics would like to get a little revenge with a win on Tuesday, it certainly is not their only focus. Last postseason’s sweep has provided this group with some extra fuel for the season as a whole.
“I’ve taken that into this whole year; not just one game, the whole year. We feel we have to get back to where we were and surpass that point,” said Crowder. “Tomorrow would be a good home win for us and we’re looking forward to it.”