By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Apparently, the NBA is OK with a notorious cheapshot artist shoving players in the back.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith will not be punished for his foul on Celtics forward Al Horford late in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Horford jumped for a potential alley-oop, Smith gave him a two-handed shove to the back, sending Horford awkwardly to the ground. He’s lucky Horford wasn’t seriously injured on the play, and Smith was only assessed a flagrant one for the dirty move.
Smith has a history against the Celtics, so it’s surprising that his latest antics didn’t earn him another few days off, or at least a hefty fine. Back in 2015, Smith was suspended for two games after hitting Celtics forward Jae Crowder in the face during Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. He was also suspended in 2013 while with the New York Knicks for elbowing then-Celtics guard Jason Terry in the jaw.
Then again, maybe it’s best for the Celtics that Smith remains in the Cleveland lineup. He went scoreless in his 27 minutes on the floor, missing all seven of his shot attempts. Smith has hit just two of his 16 shots over the first game of the series, and none of his seven three-point attempts.
Celtics guard Marcus Smart went after Smith following his shove to Horford on Tuesday night, and called him a bully after the game. The NBA may not be punishing Smith, but don’t be surprised if someone on the Celtics delivers a bone-crushing pick on him at some point over the next few games.