The Celtics' Marcus Smart described J.R. Smith as "like a bully" after the Cavaliers guard's flagrant foul on Al Horford in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday.
The Cavs fell down by two games in the series in a 107-94 loss in Boston, where Smith's fourth-quarter clash with Horford and Smart was a major flashpoint.
Smith pushed an airborne Horford in the lane and drew a flagrant. Smart reacted angrily at the time and still was irked when he faced reporters afterward.
"You take two hands to the back, it's a dirty shot," he said. "You can't allow that to keep happening.
"It's not the first time J.R. has done some dirty stuff, especially playing against us. He's known for it, especially playing against us. We know that.
"He's like a bully. Keep letting the bully keep picking on you, and he's going to keep picking on you. You've got to stand up and that's what I tried to do."
Horford was grateful for Smart's support, adding: "I felt like it was uncalled for, that type of play. But that's the one thing about the group of our guys: We have each other's backs.
"We have each other's backs," says Al Horford.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 16, 2018
Marcus Smart had his back tonight
"It is what it is. We moved on to the next play and locked in even more after that."
Smith acknowledged the flagrant call was correct and denied any malice in his actions.
"It was a good call. I blatantly pushed him," he said. "It wasn't like I was trying to low bridge him or something, just trying to make sure he didn't get it in.
"It was a good, hard foul — I can understand why it was given."