Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Boston Celtics. If you recall, Cleveland swept Boston in the first round last season, but things got heated in Game 4. J.R. Smith was ejected for a backhand to Jae Crowder, causing a sprained MCL and continuing J.R.’s streak of strange flagrant fouls in games against Boston. In the same game, Kelly Olynyk ended Kevin Love’s first postseason run by dislocating Love’s shoulder on a loose ball tangle. Thus began a pattern of wonderful immaturity displayed by these highly-paid professionals, notably Love and Crowder.
J.R. and Kelly set the tone with the fouls themselves. They probably didn’t truly intend to injure the other guy, but the plays were overly reckless — like a kid on a sugar-high at recess. Afterwards, Love entered his ‘Bitter Third Grader’ phase for a few weeks. Despite multiple attempts by Olynyk to reach out, as Woj wrote: “Strangely, Love continues to rebuff Olynyk. He isn’t interested in the call, refusing to ease Olynyk’s guilt.” After a summer to think it over, though, it finally seems over. “I apologized to [Love],” Olynyk said. “He texted me back. So I think we’re all right right now.”
Keeping things in elementary school for us is Crowder, in the midst of his best season, having started all 24 games for Boston. It’s clear, though, that Jae just can’t move on without some contrition from J.R. “I hope he apologizes [Tuesday], to be honest with you,” Crowder said. “I hope it wasn’t intentional. But if he doesn’t [apologize], then we’ll play ball.”
Unfortunately (for Crowder), though, our precious J.R. has seemingly moved on into adulthood. “Honestly man, I’m done with that whole situation,” he said. “I’m not even going to feed into it.”
If the constantly immature J.R. Smith is ready to focus on the game at hand, then so should everyone else. But with revenge on both teams’ minds, this Eastern Conference showdown will certainly be about more than just winning.