Marcus Smart’s ejection cost the Celtics their glue guy — and a win over the Sixers

Marcus Smart was ejected early into the third quarter of Sixers vs. Celtics on Wednesday after shoving Joel Embiid in the back, sending the All-Star big man tumbling to the ground. The shove was a retaliation after Embiid stuck his elbow out on a screen and sent Smart crashing to the ground, but was not whistled for an offensive foul.

Here it is again in slow motion. Smart said he “was frustrated because it was a cheap shot,” and you can tell by the way Embiid sticks his elbow out at the very last second. Smart leans into the shove, but Embiid also sells the shove — just like he sells that Hulu has live sports.

Officials assessed Smart a flagrant foul two and gave Embiid a technical foul for dashing towards Smart after the shove. Boston led by 11 at the time of the play, but the ejection woke a slumbering Sixers team that went on to come back and win on a Jimmy Butler game-winning shot, 118-115.

He’s their heart and soul, the glue guy. Kyrie Irving gets buckets, Jayson Tatum does, too. Al Horford locks down the paint, moves the ball around, and directs everyone else. Marcus Smart does everything else.

Boston can’t afford for him to lose his cool like this. Not in games of this magnitude, against a team they could meet in the playoffs. It’s not helpful to their cause of furthering last season’s playoff run that ended in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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