Remember when J.R. Smith used to be a hot headed fireball who could hardly keep his emotions from impacting his play on the floor?
You should because we are seeing shades of that person now.
J.R. Smith has been absolutely terrible since his Game 3 spat with Boston’s Jason Terry. Ever since going back to his old school ways, Smith has only made 15 field goals in four games, shooting 15-of-57 (27.7 percent) from the floor and 7-of-24 (29.1 percent) from long range.
Thus far in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Smith is shooting 23.3 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent from distance.
Indiana deserves credit for its defense making Smith work for every shot by contesting, but the majority has to be put directly on his shoulders.
As the NBA’s Sixth Man Award winner, he has to be more effective when entering games. He’s the energy starter. He’s the energizer bunny.
When things aren’t going well for the Knicks offensively, Smith comes in and makes an immediate impact on the game.
He has yet to make that direct impact shooting the ball. It’s all mental with Smith. When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s off, HE’S OFF.
Smith is the definition of a gunner. It’s a dangerous definition but he will keep shooting. Trust me.
The Knicks lost home court advantage and are now heading to Indiana for a pair. The Pacers were 30-11 at home this season while New York was just 23-18 on the road.
This series is up for grabs and Smith will play a big role into who comes out on top. He has to work to get better shots. He can’t settle for deep jumpers early in the shot clock.
Smith is one of the better pure scorers in the NBA but he has to keep his cool. Once you get inside his head, as we have seen this postseason and in the past, you can rattle him mentally.
The Pacers are the exact defensive team to get him off his game. They aren’t going to allow easy opportunities but Smith has to keep his cool in order for New York to advance.
Like a light switch, Smith’s play could change on a dime. Indiana has to take advantage now while Smith is struggling. If they don’t New York will win the series.