Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris had to be separated during a timeout during Thursday night's 115-99 loss to the Miami Heat, but Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge doesn't believe the incident is a big deal.
Ainge commented on the internal turmoil, per the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett:
"I honestly didn't think anything of it. I like Marcus' and Jaylen’s character and personalities and feistiness, and, like, I just think nothing of something like this.
"It's something where those things happen to best friends even. Heck, I remember those things happening to (Rajon) Rondo and Perk (Kendrick Perkins). You know, they're best buddies, but it's just the heat of the battle, and I didn't have a second thought about it."
The sideline altercation included an exchange of words as well as Morris shoving Brown before the two were separated by teammates:
And while emotions ran high on Thursday, Ainge isn't worried about tension lingering in the locker room.
"We have guys with good character," Ainge said, per Bulpett. "We have good guys. So I’m not worried about those things building and festering."
Thursday night's loss in Miami dropped Boston to 25-16 on the season, putting them in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, five games back of the top spot.
One year removed from coming within one game of the NBA Finals, it hasn't been the easiest of starts to the season for the Celtics. They went through a stretch where they lost eight of 12 games in November and later endured a three-game losing streak in December.
The latter rough patch led to the Celtics holding a team meeting to clear the air.
"We could pinpoint a lot of turning points," Boston star Kyrie Irving recently told ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps. "We just want to build that chemistry first. Just getting with one another, really put everything out there and then move on from that point."
"At that point, playing against Milwaukee, we weren't at rock bottom, but we needed to address some s--t in this locker room. It's just good to get stuff out in the air. As grown men and guys that have expectations for themselves, it was good to hear guys talk about what they wanted for themselves and what they wanted for this team."
Prior to Thursday night, Boston had won seven of nine since the team meeting.
The Celtics are not the first team to have players involved in a heated exchange during a game (see the Golden State Warriors), and they certainly won't be the last. However, for a team that has championship aspirations, they will have to figure out a way to move past their latest issues as they try to focus on the ultimate prize.
Zach Lowe was the guest on the latest edition of The Full 48 podcast and spoke about the Celtics and much more. To hear the Celtics discussion, jump to 36:50.