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With J.R. Smith Returning For Game 3, Should Cavs Make Lineup Change?

He’s back. After serving his two-game suspension, J.R. Smith will be a welcome addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers when they step on the Chicago Bulls’ turf in Game Three of their Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup. Smith is undoubtedly the Cavaliers’ best three point marksman and he will be bringing his sharpshooting and defensive prowess back to the list of things that the Bulls will be wary of going forward.

It’s a well known fact that Smith’s career and, more importantly, his reputation have been resurrected in Cleveland. He has kept himself out of the unnecessary stuff, which saw him on the bad side of publicity during his stint in New York, allowing the veteran guard to focus only on basketball itself:

Getty Images

Getty Images

“I think this is the best situation for me, ’cause there’s nothing but basketball. There’s nothing you expect but basketball. There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there’s no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball. So it’s a great thing, ’cause I go back to where I came from.”

J.R. Smith has been nothing but a model citizen for Cleveland, earning a huge amount of love from none else than Coach David Blatt:

“I love the guy. I love coaching him. He comes to work every single day. He’s a great teammate. He’s playing both ends of the court for us consistently. He’s one of the main reasons for our turnaround…”

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But like in other aspects outside basketball, one poor decision could cost a lot more than an individual can imagine and J.R. had to learn that the hard way. After being handed out a two-game suspension from league office, Smith went to instagram to express his regret:

“Not the player I want to be not the player I want my teammates an family to see not the person I want the fans to see but I will be better! I must be better as a player an as a Person!”

NBA.com/Stats

NBA.com/Stats

Looking past that one bad decision, J.R. Smith’s significant value to the team is undeniable and his loss was something that the team could not take any further. However, the Cavs have been fortunate enough that during his absence Iman Shumpert was able to pick up from where Smith left off. Shumpert has been a very reliable reliever stepping up on the offensive end while maintaining his lockdown defensive mentality.

During Smith’s absence, Iman had two-game averages of 18.5 points, 2 steals, and 4 threes, prompting this big question: Does Coach Blatt hand Smith’s starting job back to him or does he instead ride out the hot hands of Shumpert?

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This should be an easy one.

J.R. Smith is the starter for the Cleveland Cavaliers. While Iman Shumpert has been very impressive, two games is a small sample size compared to the amount of games Smith has played beautiful music with the rest of the starters. But on the other end, Shumpert will become an even better addition to the lackluster bench of the Cavs with the confidence that he has earned during his solid run as a starter.

While both are capable three-and-D players, Smith is the better marksman and Shumpert has more teeth on defense. But truthfully, Coach David Blatt can’t go awfully wrong with either one of them. He has a good problem in front of him and the real burden will be on the opposing team’s think thank as they try to figure out a way to survive against these two playoff-tested and versatile guards.

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