NBA Finals: Smith DID NOT cost Cavs Game 1

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
By @RyanGrosman
June 3, 2018

First, I want to make something abundantly clear. I hate J.R. Smith.

He’s a knucklehead who plays dirty and is as reliable as a wooden toaster. He’s more likely to untie your shoe than to try to score on you. There just isn’t a single likable quality about him.

And second, more importantly, not knowing the score for the biggest play of Game 1 of the NBA Finals is beyond inexcusable. It just can’t happen. Ever. He deserves all the media and social media criticism being flung his way. And then some.

That being said, J.R. Smith DID NOT cost the Cavilers the game. To say that he did makes you as much of an idiot as he is.

Sure, Smith didn’t help matters by thinking they had the lead. That much is true. But that doesn’t mean he cost the Cavs the win.

For one thing, there’s no way of predicting what would’ve happened had Smith actually known the game was tied. Any number of things could’ve happened that may or may not have resulted in a Cavs victory.

Who knows, the Warriors may have even had an opportunity to win it in regulation depending on how things played out.

We just don’t know. And we’ll never know. Because what happened happened.

But as long as we’re playing the “what if” game, here are just some of the possible scenarios that could’ve played out.

Durant blocks the shit out of Smith

If Smith goes right back up with it, who says he scores? It was far from automatic.

If you watch the replay, once Smith grabs the ball, KD is right there. Smith, himself, points this out in his post-game, right after he lies about knowing it was tied.

Smith is 6-6, while Durant has a 20-foot wingspan. So KD could’ve easily blocked him.

Maybe Smith gets fouled on the play. But refs usually don’t call fouls with a few seconds left in the game. It would’ve had to been one mega hack for them to call a foul on KD.

Also, let’s just take a step back for a second. This is J.R. Smith we’re talking about here. Not LeBron fucking James. Scoring in the paint isn’t exactly a consistent part of Smith’s repertoire.

Durant strips Smith

Again, if Smith tries to score right away, who says he does?

Maybe he gets stripped by KD and another Warrior recovers the ball. Time is called, giving GSW the last shot to win the game in regulation.

Last I checked, GSW has KD and 2 of the best shooters on Earth – all very capable of draining huge shots.

Smith passes to James, James misses

Another criticism of Smith was he could’ve passed to James who was in the process of losing his shit watching Smith dribble the clock away.

So let’s say Smith passes it out to James. Who says James makes the shot? I mean, he probably does given his history. But there’s no guarantee.

Smith turns the ball over passing to James

Also, who says the pass even reaches James?

Maybe the pass gets picked off, giving the possession to GSW. They call time with like 3-4 seconds left to set up the final shot.

Maybe Smith throws it away. In his attempt to feed James the ball, he’s a little overzealous, throwing the ball well over James’ head for a turnover.

Provided time doesn’t run out before the ball reaches out of bounds, GSW again could’ve had the final shot to win.

The Cavs had a timeout left

Once the Cavs realized Smith is a complete moron, which they realistically should’ve already known, someone, anyone could’ve called a timeout.

There still would’ve been 2-3 seconds left for a final shot. But they were just so mesmerized by Smith’s boneheadedness that they ended up compounding stupidity with even more stupidity.

There’s a replay after Smith’s blunder that shows James asking Tyronn Lue if they had a timeout left. James sulks after discovering that, yes, they indeed had one remaining.

Shouldn’t James have known this? Isn’t not being aware of how many timeouts you have left just as irresponsible as not knowing the score?

So you can blame Smith for his enormous brain fart. But Lue, James and the other 3 Cavs on the floor are equally to blame for not calling time. Or for not even knowing they had a timeout to begin with.

The game wasn’t fucking over yet

Regulation ended with the game tied. I looked it up – according to NBA rules, if a game is tied after regulation, they play another 5 minutes to determine the outcome.

This is what’s known as overtime.

Had Smith actually cost the Cavs the game, they would’ve taken the L right then and there.

But, like I said, it was tied. The Cavs still had a chance to win the game.

It just so happened they laid an ostrich egg in OT. The Cavs couldn’t seem to recover from Smith’s butthead play, despite the fact that, as I’ve outlined here, the win was not guaranteed.

Smith doesn’t grab the rebound

Again, if we’re playing this imbecilic “what if” game, what if Smith never gets the rebound?

Everyone forgets that Smith never should’ve had that rebound in the first place. Amazingly, he was able to get the ball with very little effort.

So an even bigger brain fart goes to KD for not even attempting to block Smith out. Under no circumstances should he have let Smith outwork him for the biggest rebound of Game 1. 

If KD actually grabs the ball like he should have, he calls time and GSW has like 4 seconds to try to win it.

A zillion different outcomes

So, like I said, a zillion different things could’ve happened had Smith been paying attention to the score.

It’s like in MLB when a runner gets picked off at first, then the batter hits a homerun. Commentators and fans will say the runner cost the team a run. But who says the batter still hits a dinger with the runner on base? Maybe he does or maybe a thousand other things happen.

Yes, the Cavs could’ve won in regulation. But they also could’ve easily lost. Or it still could’ve gone to OT.

We will never know because you can’t just re-write what happened and pretend that’s how it would’ve played out.


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