The one battle Marcus Smart can’t seem to win


Through the years, the NBA has made it abundantly clear defense isn’t a priority. If you aren’t an elite defender, refs aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Even then, officials tend to call the game in a way that promotes more offense.

That is, unless you’re Marcus Smart. He doesn’t feel things are being called fairly for him on either end of the floor, which led to things boiling over when Miles Bridges shoved him in the fourth quarter on Thursday.

Miles Bridges has a death wish

— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) November 8, 2019

“I wish they would call the game the right way,” Smart told reporters after Boston’s 108-87 in Charlotte. “A lot of the calls that they called, I didn’t understand where the fouls were. It just seemed like whenever I get the ball and I’m on offense, I can’t get a call.

“With the Bridges push and stuff like that, I told them ‘If it was me, y’all probably throw me out (of) the game and everything, so either you clean it up or I will. I allowed y’all, I gave y’all time, and you keep telling me, let us handle it, let us handle it. I’m calling to y’all first, but at some point, as a player, as a man, you got to protect yourself.’ Nobody else is going to protect (you). You got to protect yourself. If that means I got to lose a little bit of money, I lose a bit of money.”

This is a fight Smart won’t win. Not because he’s wrong. Again, the league caters to offense. It’s just how things work. That’s why the Rockets were able to score 159 points — in regulation — when they played the Wizards a week ago. (Washington scored 158 points in the same game.)

It’s also why Brad Stevens is right to stay quiet, as much as Smart wants him to step in. Arguing some of the calls or discussing principles with the refs won’t get the Celtics anywhere.

A gesture from Stevens might go a long way for Smart, in terms of morale, but does he really need the extra boost to know his coach is on his side?

As much as Smart wants Stevens to speak up, it’s not going to accomplish much.

Plus, it sounds like Smart has everything covered anyway.

“Like I said, if I have to lose a bit of money to show that and protect myself, I’m just (going to) have to lose a bit of money,” he said.

Smart just needs to keep in mind the Celtics need him more than they have in any other season. No one will care about a fine, but a suspension at the wrong time is something the Celtics can’t afford.

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