Caleb Martin responds to critics after hard foul on Jayson Tatum

Caleb Martin responds to critics after hard foul on Jayson Tatum originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Game 1 of the Boston Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat on Sunday was relatively uneventful … until the final minute.

That’s when Heat forward Caleb Martin collided with Jayson Tatum while the Celtics star was in the air attempting to grab a rebound, sending Tatum to the TD Garden floor with a hard thud and causing Jaylen Brown to immediately confront Martin.

Tatum avoided injury and downplayed the hard foul after the game, but NBC Sports Boston’s Brian Scalabrine was among those who viewed Martin’s actions as “dirty,” especially considering the Heat were down by double digits at the time en route to a 114-94 loss.

Martin insisted after Sunday’s game he had no malicious intent and doubled down on that stance Tuesday.

“I mean, anybody who knows me, I don’t feel the need to try to take out guys in order to beat somebody,” Martin told reporters at Miami’s practice, via CLNS Media’s Bobby Manning. “The first thing I did was turn around and check if (Tatum) was OK. If I was trying to take somebody out, I would have just kept walking away. And that’s just not who I am.

“This is the playoffs; hard fouls happen all the time. If the roles were switched, I don’t think anybody would have been calling it a ‘code red.’ It just happened.”

Scalabrine somewhat jokingly wondered Sunday on Celtics Pregame Live whether Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had ordered a “code red” to his players to send some sort of message to the Celtics that they wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Scalabrine’s comments apparently made their way to Martin, who defended his actions by suggesting Celtics guard Jrue Holiday pushed him into Tatum.

“If anybody watches it, I clearly got pushed into him,” Martin said. “I was going for a putback dunk and the push changed my trajectory. This stuff just happens. Guys are playing full speed and things happen, so I’d never try to hurt somebody.”

When asked if he was “surprised” about the attention his foul on Tatum has garnered, the fifth-year forward took the high road.

“I wasn’t too surprised, honestly,” Martin responded. “It’s that time of year where things get amplified and everybody likes to try to have a say in something. It’s just that time of year.

“Anything that’s done wrong or hard fouls happen to certain people, they’re gonna be made out to be like you’re trying to take guys out and stuff like that. So, that’s just what comes with this time of year.”

The NBA reportedly isn’t expected to discipline Martin for his foul on Tatum, but this storyline likely won’t go away. While the Celtics are the heavy favorites in the series, the Heat play a physical brand of basketball that could lead to more tense moments going forward, especially now that the C’s are on edge after a hard foul on their star player.

Game 2 in Miami is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, with Mike Gorman and Scalabrine calling the game broadcast for NBC Sports Boston and pregame coverage beginning at 6 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live.

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