Led by Joel Embiid, the 76ers were frequent flyers to the charity stripe, making 36-of-45 attempts as Embiid went to the line 21 times by himself as part of a 42-point performance. In contrast, the Celtics went 13-for-20 from the free-throw line as a team. Just in the fourth quarter, Boston didn’t attempt a single free throw while Philadelphia shot 17.
That advantage helped Philadelphia take down Boston, 117-109, and Marcus Smart wasn’t afraid to point out the discrepancy and speak his mind about it.
“We got our hands up a lot of the times and (Embiid) flails and he gets the call,” Smart said. “Down the other end, we got our guys attacking the rim, getting a lot of contact and we’re just not getting the whistles. It’s tough to play like that.”
Smart added: “(Embiid) shot alone himself 21 free throws. Our team shot 20. Can’t beat that. They shot 36 for 45. We shot 13 for 20. Hard to win that way.”
Smart’s dismay over the amount of free throws the mammoth seven-foot, 280-pound center attempted has a lot to due with the star treatment Embiid receives from officials, a benefit Smart doesn’t get on the offensive end.
While Smart carried the Celtics offense at times in the loss by netting 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting, Smart, who is known for flopping, believed in a somewhat hypocritical way that he could have made more trips to the free-throw line — he made 4-of-7 free throws in the game — if he resorted more to Embiid’s antics.
“If the roles were reversed and I do it every time, I’d be on too,” Smart said. “If every time I threw my arms up every time I get touched, I’m going to the free-throw line. It’s kind of hard not to get into a rhythm that way when you shoot 21 free throws alone and they allow you to hack on the other end.”
Embiid didn’t back down from Smart’s postgame comments, as he verbally spared with Smart and basically told the Celtics guard to look in the mirror.
“Marcus Smart just told me that I flail a lot? Come on,” Embiid said. “I’m sure he knows himself and he knows his game. You know he does a lot of that.”
Embiid continued: “The game is physical, other teams tend to try to be extra physical against me, and I guess I’m just smarter than everybody else...If you’re gonna put your hand up there, I’m gonna take advantage of it and I’m gonna get to the free-throw line.”
Embiid, continued: "The game is physical, other teams tend to try to be extra physical against me, and I guess I'm just smarter than everybody else...If you're gonna put your hand up there, I'm gonna take advantage of it and I'm gonna get to the free-throw line." https://t.co/6pw5ihNqbE— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) January 21, 2021
Smart also took exception to a late-game situation that involved a jump ball between Jaylen Brown and Danny Green. Smart thought Green, who won the jump ball, got some help from the official on the play.
“The ball went right to Danny Green. It’s a jump ball, but should have just gave him the ball if you’re going to throw it right to his side instead of just throwing it up to the middle,” Smart said. “There’s no way Danny Green is out-jumping Jaylen Brown and winning the jump ball. Sorry.”
Just another game in the life of Smart, who had his vocal displeasures about Embiid and the officiating come to the forefront and push the stellar contributions he made on the floor to the backseat.