The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year could be seeing more time on the bench, starting this Saturday in Indiana.
In the two games against Indiana, J.R. Smith is 7-for-30 shooting, 3-of-13 from three and has six turnovers to one assist. Even in the second half of Game 2 against the Pacers, when everything the Knicks did seemed to work, Smith was 0-of-5. He has shot just 26 percent since his return from a one game suspension for elbowing Jason Terry in the head. The man is slumping. At a bad time.
The Knicks are in a tough second round series with the Pacers and Knicks coach Mike Woodson needs production off his bench. He told ESPN Radio — as transcribed by Newsday — that he is not going stick with the cold hand forever.
“I’ll gauge J.R. as we go along and if I feel he’s not giving me anything, I could always turn to other guys on that bench,” he said. “I feel good about the guys who come in off the bench, just like I feel good about J.R. But if he’s struggling and I feel the need that I got to pull him, I will do that as the head coach.”
The Knicks need to earn a split in Indiana and a hot J.R. Smith certainly would help with that. But they showed in Game 2 they can have a run without him — in Indiana the Pacers are not going to go as cold, not be as lifeless as they were for that second half. But the Knicks can still get the win with the defensive pressure they showed that half.
It’s just something to watch, if Smith is cold Woodson doesn’t have time to wait for him to warm up.