Celtics HC Brad Stevens 'Disappointed' in Marcus Smart After Ejection vs. 76ers

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 21, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics pushes Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers to the ground in the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on March 20, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Celtics 118-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters that he was "disappointed" with C's guard Marcus Smart after he was ejected following a retaliatory shove of Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid on Wednesday.

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Marcus Smart got ejected for shoving Embiid to the ground 😳 https://t.co/jEIAzgN2eQ

With the Celtics up 69-58 early in the third quarter, Embiid appeared to give Smart an elbow. The 25-year-old then sent Embiid flying with a push. Embiid got a technical, but the officials gave Smart a Flagrant 2 foul and an ejection.

The tide turned shortly after that moment, with the 76ers tying the game at 82 five minutes later before winning 118-115.

Who knows how the game would have turned out with Smart on the court for the entirety of the second half, but the push seemed to spark Embiid, who proceeded to scored 15 points in the third quarter before finishing with 37 for the game in addition to 22 rebounds.

The Smart push isn't a big deal from a longer-term perspective, though.

At this juncture, the Celtics have next to no shot at finishing in the top two of the Eastern Conference, which would give them home-court advantage for the first and second rounds (should they get to the latter stage).

The 43-29, fifth-place Celtics are likely resigned to playing in the 4-5 first-round matchup after the loss, as the 76ers are now four games ahead of the C's for third. However, Boston would have a favorable matchup regardless of whether it finishes third, fourth or fifth with the sixth-place Detroit Pistons likely too far behind at 36-34 to do any damage to the top five.

If the Celtics finish fourth or fifth, they'll likely see the Indiana Pacers, who are below 12-13 ever since All-Star guard Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending quad injury.

If the Celtics finish third, they'd play a team currently residing around the .500 mark.

Regardless, Boston would be the favorite in either series and resigned to hitting the road to face either the 53-19 Milwaukee Bucks or 51-21 Toronto Raptors in the second round.

In reality, the series of events that has led the preseason Eastern Conference favorite Celtics to languish in the middle of the playoff table is a far bigger problem than what Smart did on Wednesday.

Namely, the team's inconsistent playβ€”three wins against the 76ers but a loss to the last-place Phoenix Suns perhaps representing the apex and nadir of the regular seasonβ€”has played a large part.

That can all be washed away when the playoffs begin, as every team starts fresh at 0-0. The question is whether the Celtics can leave their regular-season demons behind and start resembling the top team people expected prior to this year.