It was the kind of incident that can either make or break a team, and so far, it looks like a win for the Celtics.
Boston is 1-0, after a locker room blowup in which Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and others released their frustrations in a very loud tirade overheard by reporters.
“We’re a family, a family fights all the time. I fight with my brothers all the time. But at the end of the day, we can fight with each other and nobody else can… It’s going to happen,” Smart told reporters Monday.
"We're a family. Families fight."
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 21, 2020
The sixth-pick of the 2014 draft, Smart scored 20 points in 36 minutes as the Celtics bounced back with a 117-106 win after losing the first two games of the series.
It was a complete turnaround for the team after a reported argument in which Smart had angrily left the locker room saying “y’all on that bullshit,” following their Game 2 loss.
Thanks to the NBA bubble’s locker room location, reporters were privy to the Celtics frustrations but the players shrugged off any reports of discord.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who play with their feelings on their sleeves, who play with their heart on their sleeves, play with their heart night in and night out, and we weren’t supposed to be happy down 2-0,” said Smart.
“I would have been more worried after that Game 2 loss if everyone was calm, cool, and collected. That would have been a problem,” said Smart. “We have our families here, but for the most part, they just sit over there, cheer, and it’s a different feel.”
Other than an incident between the Laker guard Rajon Rondo’s brother and the Houston Rockets’ Russell Westbrook, the “fans” in attendance have been subdued compared to a normal crowd.
Celtics rookie Grant Williams credited Smart’s leadership for Boston’s win.
“He’s our heart and soul,” said Williams. “He’s a guy that keeps us going, keeps us inspired, keeps us competitive. He’s our dog.”
The Celtics and Heat play Game 4 Wednesday.