Celtics’ Marcus Smart – Referees canceled appeal so Giannis Antetokounmpo not to foul

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Celtics guard Marcus Smart said referees gave him an “excuse” to explain their decision to overturn a charge against reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the dying minutes of the 119- loss. Boston 112 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night, a call that allegedly caused Antetokounmpo to foul out of the game.

“I wish we had a better one,” Smart said when asked if he had received an explanation for the call. “The excuse was that I was late to pull the charge.

“Frankly, I think we all know what it was about. It was Giannis’ sixth foul. [They] didn’t want to bring him out. Let’s just call this spade a spade. ”

The game, which took place 1 minute and 28 seconds into the fourth quarter, would have returned the ball to the Celtics with the score tied at 107. It would also have sent Antetokounmpo to the bench for the remainder of the game. Game. Instead, he received a basket when the call was changed to a block – a basket that came after Antetokounmpo dribbled to fake Jayson Tatum, then made a Eurostep to enter. the way and in the basket.

After Antetokounmpo took the free throw, Jaylen Brown missed a 3 point on Boston’s subsequent possession and Khris Middleton responded with a 3 on his own, giving Milwaukee a 113-107 lead he didn’t. would not abandon the rest of the way to Lake Buena. Vista, Florida.

Antetokounmpo said he felt Smart was moving around the room.

“First of all, it’s his opinion. But at the end of the day, when I had the conversation with him, I respect him as a player, ”Antetokounmpo said of Smart afterwards.

“I think he’s a great player. One thing I respect about him is that he’s the first guy on the pitch, he trusts his teammates, he plays hard, he keeps the best player. So that’s what I told him at the end of the game. I said, “I respect you, I respect you, you play hard and I just play hard.” There is nothing more to it. I’m not coming against you, it’s not my personality. I’m just trying to stay focused, I’m trying to help my team win, and I know he’s going to try to talk all the time and get me out of my game, and I respect that he’s doing that’s because he’s trying to get me out of my game. I understand. When I sit down and calm down, I look back and understand what he’s trying to do. ”

Antetokounmpo, already one of the most physical and difficult players in the league, finished with 36 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. He repeatedly forced officials to make calls, or not, in the last few minutes.

A minute before the charge was canceled, Smart wanted a push called in on Antetokounmpo as he headed to the rim for a layup that put the Bucks up 107-105. It was just one of many physical moments between Antetokounmpo and Smart, a likely selection for the All-Defensive squad, throughout a physical and competitive game that saw the teams combine to shoot 68 free throws and be called for 54 fouls.

Then, after the charge was overturned, there was an examination to see if Antetokounmpo had committed any hostile act after meeting Celtics center Daniel Theis on Milwaukee’s next defensive possession. After the examination, it was determined not.

“They just said [Theis] was left untouched in the stomach, ”Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. They said they couldn’t call it a personal fault, so it must be when you go to the review to see if it’s a hostile act, I guess you can’t call it a personal fault. That’s what they told me. So we continued. ”

Referee James Capers told a pool reporter after the game that Antetokounmpo was in a normal defensive position and had touched Theis belt line.

“It wasn’t in the groin area, so there was no illegal act on the game,” Capers said.

Antetokounmpo then came back down and scored his last points of the night on a layup and -1 in the lane over Theis to ice the game for the Bucks, capping a dominant one-on-one performance that helped Milwaukee survive without the point guard. departure Eric Bledsoe and key reserve Pat Connaughton, both of whom remain absent as they recover from COVID-19.

Boston, meanwhile, had a terrible 2-for-18 performance from Tatum, with one of his marks coming when Antetokounmpo actually tipped the ball into the basket himself. Guard Kemba Walker scored 16 points in 19 minutes as he was limited in his return from a sore left knee.

The Bucks, however, were happy to see their star pull through the game and take the win.

“Yeah, I mean I’m human,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said with a smile, when asked if he was worried Antetokounmpo was making a mistake.

“There is so much going on on the pitch and I thought it was a good job to referee whistling, not calling and just trying to discern what had happened and nothing had happened. And then the blocking / charging, it’s tough calls. I think that’s one of the great things about replaying and it had a huge impact. We are fortunate that those two situations, I suppose, were properly mediated and considered. “

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