NBA fines Celtics' Marcus Smart $15K for saying refs were protecting Giannis Antetokounmpo

Jack Baer
·3 min read

Some postgame complaining about controversial calls proved costly for Marcus Smart.

The Boston Celtics guard was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Saturday for comments about the officiating in Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The comments concerned Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo in particular, who benefited from some controversial calls in the game’s final minutes. One charge call that got turned into a blocking foul on Smart prompted the guard to speculate the officials were protecting Antetokounmpo, who had five fouls at the time, from fouling out.

The Bucks and Celtics had been tied at the time of the call. The charge/block reversal created an and-1 for Antetokounmpo, which gave the Bucks a lead they never relinquished on their way to a 119-112 win.

Here’s why Marcus Smart was mad

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - JULY 31: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks, right, drives around Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, July 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 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 Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a big night on Friday. Some Celtics weren't happy with the calls he got. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

The call in question started with Antetokounmpo driving to the basket from the top of the perimeter. After maneuvering around Jayson Tatum and Daniel Theis, Antetokounmpo jumped through the paint for a layup. At that point, Smart stepped up to defend Antetokounmpo in the only way he really could: going for the charge call.

Smart initially got the charge call he was looking for, but the officials determined Smart had committed a blocking foul after a review.

There didn’t seem to be much of a question over whether Smart had been in position in time. Instead, it was his placement around the restricted area that might have caused the officials to call a foul on Smart. Smart’s left foot clearly started in the restricted area, then got pulled out as Antetokounmpo made contact.

That wasn’t enough to convince the Celtics and their fans that Antetokounmpo got away with a charge. The MVP candidate eventually finished the game with 36 points on 14-of-20 shooting, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

Smart wasn’t even the only Celtic to imply the refs had favored Antetokounmpo after the game.

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