Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been on the receiving end of a ton of criticism following a crucial late-game mistake against the Golden State Warriors in the opener of the 2018 NBA Finals.
With his team tied after George Hill missed a potential game-winning free throw and under five seconds left, Smith grabbed the rebound. But instead of going back up with it, he decided to dribble the ball out to the perimeter, enabling the game to head to overtime.
Interesting tactic from J.R. Smith pic.twitter.com/7eacYbekpn
— KNBR (@KNBR) June 1, 2018
Everyone has had an opinion on this disastrous mistake. After all, Golden State went on to capture Game 1 at home by 10 points in the extra stanza.
While very few have defended Smith, at least one NBA player is providing analysis that attempts to paint the embattled veteran in a better light. That’s none other than NBA champion Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs.
JR play can be looked at two ways…he missed out on an opportunity to score or…he prevented GS from getting another opportunity to score…?
— Danny Green (@DGreen_14) June 1, 2018
This is a rather interesting take right here. If Smith had indeed missed the shot with Kevin Durant breathing down his back, Golden State might have had another opportunity to win the game in regulation.
It’s the “what if” aspect of the debate.
However, it’s much more likely that Smith would have been able to score the eventual game-winning field goal. Durant indicated that he was in position to block the shot. But a freeze frame of the play clearly indicates that he wasn’t.
Either way, Smith’s error was one of the many reasons that Cleveland dropped Game 1 in heartbreaking fashion against the heavily favored Warriors.