J.R. Smith has been a key contributor for the Cavaliers for the bulk of the season.
But he’s been dismal in a reserve role during the NBA Finals, at the time his team needs him the most.
LeBron James has been desperate to find help on the offensive end of the floor in this series, but only Matthew Dellavedova (at least before Game 4) had provided it on anything resembling a consistent basis. Cleveland needs Smith to do much better than the 29.7 percent he’s shooting in the Finals, but to this point he’s been unable to find his way.
Smith owned up to his poor play postgame, with a colorful, honest description of how things have been going.
Q: You aren’t shooting the way you want to throughout The Finals. How can you change that?
Smith: Stop thinking so much and just go out there and play. Be more than just a shooter, go out there and defend, rebound and create plays for everyone else. …
Q: How would you assess your own game right now?
Smith’s father believes his son will break out of his slump soon, and do so in thrilling fashion.
After a string of maddening, Bad J.R. nights, he seems overdue for another J.R. joyride.
“Oh, it’s coming,” Earl Smith said with a chuckle. “It’s coming.”
The Smith family is nothing if not confident.
“He’ll be all right,” the elder Smith said. “He’s just got to keep shooting.”
Shoot ’til you’re hot, shoot ’til you’re cold is how the saying goes, and there’s no question that will be J.R.’s mindset.
But his nerves in Game 5 will need to be as cool as he looked during his Game 4 entrance in order to have a chance at turning things around.