BOSTON (CBS) — LeBron James may be out of the equation, but bad blood apparently still exists between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
That much was clear in the first quarter of Saturday night’s preseason meeting between the two teams in Cleveland. Celtics big man Aron Baynes was tangled up with Cleveland guard J.R. Smith near the basket. With locked arms, the two spun each other around before they were separated, a clash which drew some teammates to the free-throw line.
There, Celtics guard Marcus Smart was the most aggressive, giving Smith a two-hand shove and then squaring up with his fists raised, ready for a fight.
Smith was held back by Cleveland teammates, but Smart pursued him. Eventually, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier got their hands on Smart and separated him from Smith.
Reports surfaced immediately saying that Smart flashed his middle finger at the fans in Cleveland. However, a look at the video appears to show Smart using his pointer finger to welcome boos from the crowd (starting around the 40-second mark here):
Last week, a war of words of sort broke out between the Celtics and Cavs. Tristan Thompson said that the East still runs through Cleveland, which prompted a response from Marcus Morris, who said, “Get that vacation ready early this year fam! Ain’t [nothing] going through the Cavs this year! #facts”
Smart defended his actions after the game.
In a tweet, Smith appeared ready to accept Smart’s challenge.
This past offseason, the Celtics signed Smart to a four-year deal.
Smith didn’t make any friends in Boston when he shoved Al Horford mid-air during last year’s playoff series.