After Butler and Smart got into a brief on-court dust-up in the first half of Sunday’s game, Butler said Smart is “a great actor, acting tough — it’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that [life].”
Given the opportunity to respond after the Celtics’ off-day practice on Tuesday, Smart said his toughness has never been questioned and fired back at Butler.
“I laugh at that,” Smart said. “This is about Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls, not Marcus Smart vs. Jimmy. I ain’t gotta sit here and say this and that — I’m this, I’m that. I ain’t that type of guy. My actions speak harder than words. It ain’t hard to find me. But right now I’m focused on my teammates and this series.”
Smart conceded that tensions tend to run high in the postseason and, while he tried to downplay Butler’s comments, he clearly didn’t agree with them.
“I ain’t gotta talk about what I am about. I could show you, but I’m not going to tell you,” Smart said. “So, like I said, it ain’t hard to find me. And you heard him, he said, ‘I don’t think Marcus Smart’s about that life?’ Last time I checked, if you’re going to say somebody ain’t about that life, you should know, right? But like I said, we’re going to keep this Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics, not Marcus vs. Jimmy.”
Asked directly whether anyone has ever questioned his toughness, Smart responded, “Never.” Asked then for his reaction to Butler’s comments, Smart offered an emphatic and exaggerated, “Ha ha.”
But Smart, who was the last player on the practice court, getting up shots 45 minutes after the Celtics’ workout ended, said he wants to keep the focus on basketball and helping Boston build on its momentum from winning the past two games to even the series at 2-2.
Game 5 is Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“Just let it go,” Smart said. “Just like, [teammate] Gerald [Green] did a good job talking to me. I told him, ‘I’m good.’ And I just keep thinking I’ve already lost too much money this season. So no need to give up any more.”
Smart was fined $25,000 for an obscene gesture he made toward a fan during the Celtics’ Game 2 loss in Boston.
Teammate Isaiah Thomas echoed Smart’s sentiments about keeping the focus on the game and not a war of words, even as Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg criticized his dribbling.
“It’s going to be emotional but we just gotta worry about what we’re doing on the court,” Thomas said. “Worry about everybody in this locker room. We don’t worry about what they’re doing; we don’t worry about what they’re saying.”
Thomas got peppered with questions about Hoiberg’s suggestion after Game 4 that Thomas is impossible to guard because he picks up his dribble. Thomas dismissed the notion.
“I only know one way to dribble. I’ve been dribbling the same way my whole life,” Thomas said. “Maybe it was strategic or something. … I was very surprised. Out of everything else that I do on the court, you wanna bring that up? It is what it is. I’m going to continue to dribble the ball the way I know how.
“I don’t know what he was trying to do there. I know I don’t carry the ball. And, if I do, every other point guard and every other guard that dribbles the ball in this league carries as well.”
A reporter wondered whether other players could be whistled for similar infractions and referenced Bulls guard Dwyane Wade. Thomas responded, “Dwyane Wade. [Rajon] Rondo. LeBron [James]. I dribble just like everybody else.”
Thomas was asked how he’s doing, emotionally, after the death of his younger sister earlier this month and said it’s been tough.
“Man, I’m just taking it day by day,” Thomas said. “Some days are better than others. I’m not here, man. It’s never going to be the same.”