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Mazzulla and Scalabrine react to Caleb Martin’s “dirty” foul on Tatum

Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin, behind center, fouls Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, front center, in front of Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) in the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first round playoff series, Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Boston.
Jayson Tatum hit the ground hard on Sunday after being fouled by Caleb Martin. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Celtics’ convincing win over the Heat in Game 1 of their first-round series could have ended up as a Pyrrhic victory — based on how Jayson Tatum felt after the game.

In the closing minute of the fourth quarter, Tatum hit the parquet floor hard after Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin undercut him as the Celtics star jumped up to set up a rebound.

Tatum quickly got back to his feet after hitting the deck, but Jaylen Brown immediately took exception to Martin’s mistake, cackling the Heat forward and starting a small scrum.

Tatum commented after the game that he felt “fine” and was not injured after his hard fall.

After Boston’s eventual 114-91 victory on Sunday, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla had an unsurprising response to Martin’s foul and the subsequent commotion that erupted on the hardwood.

“I was just thinking, I was waiting to see what (Brown) was going to do,” Mazzulla said of the altercation. “I was quite excited about the whole situation. That’s why I enjoyed watching it.”

Joe Mazzulla may have made the transition from player to coach, but it’s clear his competitiveness hasn’t diminished since he’s been on the sidelines. Earlier this season, Mazzulla admitted he was told to stop blocking opponents’ shots after a timeout.

While Mazzulla was more focused on Brown’s reaction after Martin’s mistake, former Celtics forward and current NBC Sports Boston analyst Brian Scalabrine didn’t mince his words when asked about Martin’s actions — as well as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s strategy during those final minutes of a blowout. .

“I’m not trying to start anything here, but Erik Spoelstra called a timeout with a 1:30 deficit at 16,” Scalabrine said. “Thirty seconds later that play happens. Thirty seconds later. Why does he call a timeout with 1:30? Why does that play happen, that play right there, 30 seconds later? That seemed vague to me.”

“To me it’s a dirty game,” he added. “I think anyone who watches that, Martin should be banned for that. That’s a dirty game. You can not do that. Just think about that. The NBA is about the star players. The idea of ​​winning an NBA championship is that your star players have to stay healthy. And a guy goes up there, and you just ram him? That’s not basketball.”

Martin’s late error and subsequent scrum should add some fuel to this first-round series, which resumes Wednesday night at 7pm at TD Garden.

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