Wally: J.R. Smith Being "Unfairly" Criticized

Smith made a blunder at the end of regulation in Game 1, yes, but other Cavs were also at fault

Tiki and Tierney
June 08, 2018 - 5:45 am

USA Today Images


If the Cleveland Cavaliers lose the 2018 NBA Finals, many fans and analysts will point to J.R. Smith’s end-of-regulation blunder in Game 1 as one of the main reasons why.

Wally Szczerbiak believes that is unfair.

“Totally unfairly blaming J.R. Smith,” the CBS Sports Network basketball analyst said on Tiki and Tierney. “He deserves a little bit of the blame, and you guys know as a player and a coach, the media blows everything out of proportion. Let’s not forget that George Hill – that’s an 81-percent free-throw shooter – had the opportunity to make a free throw to put his team up one. Let’s not forget that.”

Instead, Hill missed, and Smith got the rebound – over Kevin Durant.

“That was impressive,” Szczerbiak said. “It really was.”

We all know what happened next.

“If LeBron or any of the players realized they had a timeout, (they should have called timeout),” Szczerbiak said. “J.R. made a good play. He made a blunder. He didn’t realize that. I think J.R. thought they were up one. I think we saw those words mouthed out of his mouth on a lot of the social-media sites when he was looking at LeBron.”

The Cavs were outscored 17-7 in overtime, losing 124-114.

“That was a tough loss for them,” Szczerbiak said. “They laid everything out. They played the perfect game to steal Game 1. I think the fact that they had three days off and Golden State only had two days off was a little bit of advantage for LeBron. When they lost that game, that was a tough one. You knew Game 2 Golden State was kind of going to hit their stride. They kicked it into gear in the second half of Game 2.”

The Warriors won Game 2, 122-103. Game 3 is Wednesday in Cleveland at 9 p.m. ET.

“We’ll see what Cleveland comes back with at home,” Szczerbiak said. “They’re a really good home team. I played on that floor with LeBron at home. It’s tough to beat them at home. If they can defend home court, we’ll see what happens in this series.”