Remember yesterday when we wrote about how the Cleveland Cavaliers probably aren’t that concerned about J.R. Smith’s really rough scoring drought? That’s probably still the case, even though the defending NBA champions probably read the news that the team they vanquished last year in the Finals, the Golden State Warriors, are maybe better this time around and craving revenge. Nothing to worry about, right?
That video above is Smith in the Cavs 118-101 loss hugging it out with Jason Terry while Tony Snell slams down a dunk. “I wasn’t even paying attention,” Smith says of the play. “I don’t even remember that.”
That one moment didn’t seal the deal for Cleveland, but it does sort of perfectly highlight everything that is great and totally infuriating about Smith. You hear about how he’s streaky, how he’s the worst player in the league if you’re talking stats and we all know he likes wearing a shirt about as much as Iggy Pop. But throw all of that out for a second and focus on this: LeBron James is always going to be the sun in the team’s solar system since he’s the best player in the world. If James doesn’t show up then the Cavs are doomed. Yet few players can sink the ship or help right it the way Smith can. It’s this strange ability. When he gets hot, if he is hitting three-pointers like he did in the crucial Game 3 win against the Warriors in the Finals last year, then there’s a pretty good chance his team is winning.
And then there are moments like last night, and the few nights before that. The times when Smith just seems like he doesn’t care that are so frustrating because you know he really does give a damn and loves to play and win. He’s like a symbol for the team when things don’t go right like getting blown out by the Bucks. It’s probably annoying and raises the blood pressure of more than a few fans, but it’s also somewhat uncanny and really interesting to try and figure out if J.R. Smith is going to show up to the game or not.