BOSTON — The Knicks will have to go for the sweep of the Celtics without J.R. Smith.
The NBA suspended Smith, the newly-minted Sixth Man of the Year, for Sunday’s Game 4 for his Flagrant Foul 2 on Jason Terry with 7:06 remaining in the Knicks’ 90-76 victory in Game 3.
“Don’t think there should be any suspension,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said before the suspension was announced. “I think it was kind of a heat of the moment thing and he was trying to create space.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson spoke with Smith after the incident in which he elbowed Terry in the face and then walked away after Terry fell to the floor.
“I just told him that he’s got to keep his cool, but I still want him to play hard,” Woodson said. “Don’t think he was trying to hurt anyone.”
Asked if he thought the call was warranted, Smith said: “I really don’t know, I’m not really the judge of that. I’m gonna let them do what they do.”
Now the NBA has and the Knicks will be without Smith, who is averaging 16.3 points in the series.
The Knicks must now rely even more on Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging 32 in the three games against the Celtics, along with Raymond Felton and others for more offense.
Without Smith, Steve Novak could see more time off the bench. He went for eight points on 3-for-4 shooting in Game 3.
“It doesn’t put no pressure on me,” Anthony said earlier Saturday. “We’ve got guys that are going to have to step up if that’s the case.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.