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, sending Tatum to the TD Garden floor with a hard thud as the Celtics star tried to grab a rebound in midair, 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 saw Martin's actions as ‘dirty’, especially given that the Heat were down by double digits en route to a 114-94 loss. .

Martin insisted after Sunday's game that he had no malicious intent and reinforced that stance on Tuesday.

‘I mean, anyone who knows me, I don't feel the need to try to beat guys to beat someone,’ Martin told reporters at Miami practice, via CLNS Media's Bobby Manning. ‘The first thing I did was turn around and make sure (Tatum) was OK. If I was trying to take somebody out, I'd just keep walking away, and that's not me.

‘This is the playoffs; there are always hard fouls. If the roles were reversed, I don't think anyone would call it a 'code red.' Yet it happened.

Maxey is the recipient of the NBA's 2023-24 Sportsmanship Award! Maxey is the recipient of the NBA's 2023-24 Sportsmanship Award!

Scalabrine jokingly wondered on Celtics Pregame Live on Sunday whether Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had ordered his players to ‘code red’ to send the Celtics some kind of message that they would not go quietly into the night. Scalabrine's comments apparently reached Martin, who defended his actions by suggesting that Celtics guard Jrue Holiday pushed him into Tatum.
‘If anyone watches this, I was clearly pushed into him,’ Martin said.‘I was going for a dunk and the shove changed my trajectory. These things happen. Guys are playing at full speed and things happen, so I would never try to hurt someone.’

When Tatum was asked if he was ‘surprised’ by the attention his foul garnered, the fifth-year forward took the high road.

‘I'm not surprised, to be honest,’ Martin replied.
‘It's a time of year when things get more intense and everyone likes to have a say in something. It's just this time of year.

‘Anything that's done wrong or hard fouls on some people, it's going to be perceived as if you're trying to get guys out and things like that.I mean, that's what happens this time of year.’

The NBA is reportedly not expected to discipline Martin for his foul on Tatum, but the story probably won't go away. While the Celtics are the heavy favourites in the series, the Heat play a physical style of basketball that could lead to more tense moments, especially when the C's are on edge after a hard foul on their star player.
Game 2 at TD Garden is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, with Mike Gorman and Scalabrine calling the game for NBC Sports Boston, and pregame coverage will begin at 6 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live.