Tag: J.R. Smith

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks

WATCH: J.R. Smith’s 2015 Cavaliers highlights


J.R. Smith is right there with Stephen Curry in terms of his ability to make heavily-contested, insanely-difficult shots seemingly on a regular basis.

Since coming to the Cavaliers in the midseason trade from the Knicks, Smith has been largely spectacular, and this highlight reel does a great job of showcasing his special brand of talent.

Cavaliers rate well when adjusting for playoff rotations. Warriors rate better

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
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This is the NBA Finals matchup we wanted all along.

Or close, at least.

It would have been a little better with a healthy Kevin Love and no injury questions about Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson.

But the teams are right.

The Warriors have ranked No. 1 when adjusting to playoff rotation at every step. The Cavaliers started second in the league (and way atop the Eastern Conference), dipped after Love’s injury and recovered to show their chops without him.

A reminder how these adjusted rankings are calculated:

In an attempt to get better data, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only the lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s post-season rotation.

This measure is far from perfect. It doesn’t account for opponent or weigh lineups based on how often they’ll be used in the postseason, and it’s impossible to precisely predict a team’s playoff rotation.

Here are the NBA Finalists’ ratings – actual regular-season to projected based on expected rotations:

1. Golden State Warriors

Projected rotation: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.0
  • Defensive rating: 101.3 to 97.1
  • Net rating: +10.4 to +16.9

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected rotation: Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova, James Jones

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.8
  • Defensive rating: 106.9 to 102.5
  • Net rating: +4.8 to +12.3


  • The big question is injuries. I included Klay Thompson (who reportedly expects to play Game 1) and Kyrie Irving (whom David Blatt said hasn’t looked like himself in practice) in their teams’ rotations.
  • The Warriors rate a little worse without Thompson with an offensive rating/defensive rating/net rating of 109.9/96.0/+13.9 in 429 minutes. The drop is entirely on offense, as the defense rates slightly better.
  • The Cavaliers actually rate better overall – the gains coming entirely on defense – without Irving (114.1/93.7/+20.4 in 405 minutes). It’s easy to see how Cleveland fares better defensively without Irving, and in that limited sample, the offense holds up behind heavy usage from LeBron. That’s probably unsustainable over the long run against Golden State. Irving is key to the Cavaliers not over-taxing LeBron.
  • The Cavaliers appear to have a small offensive advantage, the Warriors a significant defensive advantage.
  • Golden State has used a nine-man rotation for most of the playoffs, Cleveland eight. If the Warriors are challenged, they can probably shorten their rotation and improve.

Barack Obama: Nobody can outshoot Stephen Curry, except maybe Kyle Korver


Barack Obama did a Twitter Q&A about climate change today, and apparently this question qualified:

Great insight that LeBron James, not J.R. Smith, is the heart of the Cavaliers. Thanks, Obama.

And yes, Stephen Curry is the best shooter ever. I’m not sure why Kyle Korver gets the advantage of being open to compete.

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ improved defense helps them to Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers V Atlanta Hawks - Game Four

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not in the Finals without LeBron James playing like the best player on the planet. They are not there without J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson stepping up, or without Kyrie Irving playing through pain.

But they are also playing good defense, and that’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

The Cavaliers are allowing 98.5 points per 100 possesions in the playoffs, the best of the four teams to reach the Conference Finals. Opponents are shooting just 41.2 percent against them through three rounds.

The question to be answered in the Finals: Was that just because they were in a soft East? The Celtics were not a very good team, Pau Gasol was injured in the Bulls series, and the Hawks were a mess on offense. How much of that was good Cavaliers defense and how much was bad opponent offense?

This much is for sure: Golden State (or maybe Houston, but probably Golden State) will provide an entirely different level of challenge.

LeBron James: ‘I couldn’t foresee us being in The Finals at the beginning of the season’

LeBron James

The Cavaliers have made it to the NBA Finals, just as many expected the moment that LeBron James announced his return, and the deal to acquire Kevin Love via trade had been completed.

But James himself had his doubts.

LeBron was careful not to make the same elaborate championship promises that he did when leaving Cleveland the first time to join the Miami Heat. He was coming into a completely new situation, with a rookie NBA head coach and young players like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who, along with Love, had never experienced the postseason.

After the sweep of the Hawks was complete, and James had time to reflect on the accomplishment, he admitted that getting to the Finals in his first season with this club was something he never envisioned.

“To be at this point tonight sitting up here talking to you guys, like I said, it’s very emotional,” James said at the postgame podium. “Could I foresee this? At the beginning of the season, I couldn’t. I couldn’t foresee us being in The Finals at the beginning of the season because I just knew that we just had to get better and I just saw how young we were and how young‑minded we were at that point in time. But I knew I had to lead these guys, and if they just followed my leadership, I knew I could get them to a place where they haven’t been before.”

Look at all that’s happened since James signed on:

– Anderson Varejao was lost for the season due to injury.

– Dion Waiters was traded out of town.

– J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov were added via midseason trades.

– Kevin Love was lost for the remainder of the season in the first round of the playoffs.

– J.R. Smith was suspended for the first two games of the second round.

– Kyrie Irving missed two Conference Finals games with a knee injury — both of which were Cavaliers victories.

And there’s probably even more that could be mentioned.

James was right to doubt whether or not his goal could be accomplished with the team he joined in July. But the one that remains standing and will play in the Finals in June should be more than capable of competing with whoever comes out of the Western Conference.