This year’s NBA Finals has been a roller coaster thus far. The first two games in Golden State went into overtime and had dramatic finishes. Game 3 looked to be a blowout by the Cavs until the Warriors found their footing and almost came back. And Game 4 looked to be the game where LeBron and his “grit squad” could take control of the series, but Golden State blew them out. So as of right now there is no real answer as to what we can expect to happen. But what we do know is J.R. Smith is going to have to step up in the next few games.
“I put a lot on myself, especially with guys being out,” J.R. Smith told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “You just try to do the best you can when you can. It’s just not paying off right now. Honestly, I don’t know [why I’m struggling]. I’m getting extra shots up, putting my work in. Shots are just not falling.”
“[I have to] stop thinking so much and just go out there and play,” he said. “Be more than just a shooter, go out there and defend, rebound and create plays for everyone else.”
It has been a disappointing and I’m sure frustrating series for J.R. so far. He is shooting 30% from the field and just 27.5% from three-point range. Throughout the playoffs he has been tremendous, Smith was having a huge impact on each series. With the loss of Kyrie, J.R. has become the Cavs second most viable scoring option. LeBron is going to need a good wingman for the rest of this series.
Smith has scored only 36 points in the first four games. Luckily in Games 2 and 3, LeBron carried most of the scoring load with help from Delly. We are all waiting for that game that J.R. explodes. He has done it in the past multiple times and we expect him to do it again on this monumental NBA Finals stage. In Game 4 Smith missed all eight of his three-point attempts including a possession in the fourth quarter when he missed three straight. Not only that but he has made a few bone head plays throughout the series also. Committing stupid fouls and taking dumb shots. If the Cavs are going to win this series, they’re going to need a lot more out of J.R. Smith.
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Now lets be fair here, all NBA players have shooting slumps. But J.R.’s has come at such an inopportune time. Now is when we need him most. The easiest way for a player to get out of a shooting slump is to just keep shooting. Not only that but we need him to shoot it with confidence. Having a leader like LeBron James telling him to keep firing will help. I fully expect him to keep throwing up shots in the coming games and I do expect him to start making more. He may not have a 20-30 point game, but we need him to be more consistent with his jumper and make the open looks created for him. In order for the Cavs to steal game 5 in Oakland on Sunday night, they’ll need a larger more efficient contribution from J.R. SWISH.