Caleb Martin defends contentious Game 1 foul on Jayson Tatum

BOSTON — While the Celtics and Heat were headed toward the finish line in a blowout Game 1, there was a late skirmish inside a minute left in the game. Caleb Martin fouled Jayson Tatum hard, leading to some jawing between Martin and Jaylen Brown after the play.

In the end, fortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a long-term impact from the foul. Tatum was fine as he bounced back up immediately after hitting the court. C’s coach Joe Mazzulla even said he enjoyed the tension. Martin defended himself after the play, saying he didn’t mean to hit Tatum that hard.

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“Hard foul, trying to take it for his teammate,” Martin said of the altercation, via CLNS Media. “I tried to go help him up. Obviously, I just heard him hit the floor. I didn’t know I hit him pretty hard. Momentum was carrying me, and I think I got pushed into that direction. Hard foul, I tried to pick him up, that’s just what it is. If Jimmy (Butler) was on the floor, I would’ve done the same thing.”

C’s fans weren’t thrilled with the foul, to the point where NBC Sports Boston analyst Brian Scalabrine called out Martin and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Scalabrine said Martin should be suspended for the “dirty” foul, adding that it wasn’t a basketball play. Martin and Brown picked up technical fouls because of the skirmish.

It’s also no surprise there’s no love lost between these two teams. They’ve met in the playoffs four of the last five years including the last three seasons. The Celtics took the 1-0 series lead, but they’re going to have to scrap against a tough Miami team for the rest of the series. That’s how Tatum also viewed the play, saying it’s the playoffs and there are bound to be some physical plays between two tough foes.

“That’s just the playoffs,” Martin said. “You’re just always going to get physical. That’s just the type of game that you want. It’s that time of year where everything does pick up and intensity does pick up. Physicality picks up. No matter what, we gotta stay the course and stay mentally stable. Especially being in an environment like this, going up against a great team, you just know what comes with it.”

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