JR Smith’s 28 Carry Cavs Over Hawks in Game 1 of ECF

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Phil Jackson wanted him out of town more than the local union in NYC wanted Walmart gone. The Knicks had a rebuilding plan, and it didn’t have any room for a player like JR Smith. Jackson and the Knickerbockers sent Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland as they planned a blueprint around Carmelo. That blueprint is behind schedule.

JR Smith has been an enigma. He was almost a mini-me of Carmelo Anthony while in Denver and New York. Both Anthony and Smith lacked any defensive intensity, and both had a desire to shoot the ball from anywhere. The term, ‘he’s never taken a bad shot,’ could apply to both players.

Smith hasn’t had a rebirth with his trade to Cleveland, but he has made changes. The reason? It could be that the leader of the team, Lebron James, isn’t Carmelo Anthony. Lebron wants to win as a team, and he also knows how to win. Melo, well he doesn’t know how to win, and he doesn’t want to win as a team.

Jackson and the Knicks and Carmelo will all take note that JR arrives at the ECF ahead of all of them.

In game 1 of the eastern conference finals, JR was more swish than Smith. The biggest game of his career came and it came at the perfect time. The time to steal home court and game 1 vs the Atlanta Hawks.

The talk of the regular season was how can Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and King James coexist in a world with just one ball and only 48 minutes to share it. Now with Love out of the rest of the season, Irving hurting, and Lebron leading, it was Smith who took over. Irving spoke about his game plan with Smith:

“I went up to him and told him, `I’m just giving you the ball and getting out of the way.’ The guy made incredible shots. It was just great to be out there watching that,” Irving said.

Lebron said post game that he wasn’t worried about the trouble that seems to follow Smith. He just wanted the Cavs to make the trade for Shumpert and Smith. The Cavs were looking at Shumpert for his defense, the offense that Smith brought wasn’t a high thought when the team looked at his off court problems.

“Get him here, and I’ll take care of it,” LeBron said Wednesday, perhaps only half-joking, when he was asked about the trade that brought Smith and Shumpert to Cleveland.

He added: “Me and JR’s history go back long before he came into the NBA. He came to my hometown and we worked out multiple times. With the talent this guy possesses, I knew the man he was and I really didn’t care what anybody else thought about him. We were getting a great piece.”

Smith who in the past has been involved in a spoiled kid’s christmas list length of off the court affairs, has said that the reason he started to change his ways wasn’t Lebron but his own mother.

“When all those negative things are being said, me personally, I really don’t care, but to see her hurting, to see her go through those situations, to feel the way she feels, it’s a terrible thing for me because I know I’m putting her through those situations.”

Shortly after he arrived in Cleveland, Smith joked that it would be easy for him to stay out of trouble because of the lack of nightclubs and things to do in the wee hours.

Atlanta does have a nice nightlife, and the world will see on Friday if JR Smith is focused like he should be. Smith, who averages close to 13 points per game for his career, was described by Charles Barkley as a ‘streaky shooter at best,’ and by his now Cleveland coach David Blatt as “terrific,” and Blatt added, “When he gets hot, he gets smoking hot.”

Smith was terrific. For all the talk this year about what a great shooter, Kyle Korver is, Smith showed that world that a great shooter is just part of the game. Korver doesn’t have the quickness to guard Smith, and it showed. Atlanta also doesn’t have the luxury of bringing in another defender as Thabo Sefelosha has been out all post season and DeMarre Carroll suffered an injury in game 1.

The answer for Smith is something the Hawks will have to find before game 2 or it will be a short series.

Written by Catfish Hughes

Catfish Hughes

Frank “Catfish” Hughes has been called, “Bob Knight’s Baby with Hip Hop that covers sports.” and “the future of sports writing!” He is an official member of the NSSA & USBWA. Catfish covers the Los Angeles Angeles as the official East Coast Voice of the Lakers, and owns the NBA media outlet, WickedJumpShot.com and was the host of Thru the Wire Sports Talk Radio which aired on both ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. Catfish is the head editor and chief here at the Boxing Globe. @CatfishHughes on twitter.