LeBron James thinks he knows the secret to J.R. Smith’s success.
Smith had his best game of the season in Cleveland’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night. Smith went 7-of-12 shooting, including 5-for-7 on threes for a season-high 20 points. It was by far his best game.
So why the hot shooting night? According to LeBron, it’s because JR finally wore James’ sneakers.
“I told him it was the shoes,” James joked after the game. “He finally decided to wear my shoes … after a long conversation he finally decided to wear ’em, and he had a breakout game.”
Clearly James is angling for Smith to keep wearing the shoes. Heck, JR might have to after having such a good game against the Bucks. You don’t want to mess with superstitions if you come into a hot streak. And for Smith, only have to wear James’ shoes isn’t bad. We’ve seen guys do much worse to stick with streaks.
Bradley Beal is full of hot air if you ask Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith.
In an appearance Friday on ESPN’s “The Jump,” Beal claimed that the Cavs, who lost their final four games last regular season, tanked from the top seed in the Eastern Conference to avoid his Washington Wizards early in the playoffs.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 3, 2017
On Saturday, Smith took some time to scoff at Beal’s claim in response.
“I just don’t understand that we tanked [to miss] them, and they went to seven games against a team that was a No. 1 seed and they lost,” said the former Sixth Man of the Year, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “So how did we tank?”
“We were playing horrible,” Smith continued. “It wasn’t like we were just out there [trying to lose]. Everybody was playing. It’s not like Bron [LeBron James] didn’t play, Ky [Kyrie Irving] didn’t play, Kev [Kevin Love] didn’t play, like we were resting guys. Everybody was playing. We just had a bad rut like we just did [this season].”
The Wizards did indeed lose in the second round to the Boston Celtics last season before they could even get to the Cavs. But Beal definitely seems to be trying to puff out his chest at Cleveland, and that seems likely to continue despite the Wizards’ 130-122 loss to the Cavs in Washington on Friday night.
The Cleveland Cavaliers may be the favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference champions this season, but many believe the Boston Celtics have a great chance to surpass them now that Kyrie Irving has swapped teams. One player who isn’t worried about giving up his spot at the top is J.R. Smith.
While speaking with reporters on Monday, Smith offered his assessment of this year’s Celtics squad. The overall takeaway was that the swingman does not believe knocking off Boston will be a big challenge.
“People are expecting good things from (Jayson) Tatum, but he’s a rookie so I can’t really go there with him,” Smith said, according to a video posted by Cleveland.com. “Al (Horford) is gonna be Al — a pick-and-pop guy, doesn’t really roll as much. Jaylen (Brown) has obviously gotten better.
“I think they’re the same — I don’t want to say the same team, obviously, because there’s different people in different jerseys — but I don’t really pose them as a big threat to us.”
Depending on the health of Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs still have the best chance to win the East. Is Irving a better player than Thomas? Yes, but LeBron James is so much better than any other player on either team that Cleveland has the edge. LeBron has taken some terrible teams to the NBA Finals pretty much by himself, and he still has plenty of good players around him.
Irving is obviously the X-factor. He’s still in his prime and has had to play second fiddle to LeBron for three years, so it will be interesting to see how he operates as Boston’s clear-cut No. 1. Based on some of the things Smith has already said about Irving, it’s no surprise he is hesitant to give his former teammate too much credit.
The future of the Road Trippin’ podcast, featuring NBA veterans Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, may be in doubt.
Jefferson was traded to the Hawks Friday. Before the trade, however, the veteran duo put out their 50th episode, featuring sharpshooter J.R. Smith.
In that conversation, Smith said he was “hurt” by being benched in favor of Dwyane Wade. He also shared a fascinating anecdote: he has a truly crazy coffee order.
During the podcast, it was revealed that the Cavs’ trainers visit Dunkin Donuts for coffee before every game. Jefferson prompted Smith to reveal how he takes his coffee.
“Extra Large coffee, eight and eight,” Smith said.
That means before every game, the sharpshooter drinks an Extra Large hot coffee with eight creams and eight sugars. This explains a lot about Smith’s unmatched on-court energy.
You can listen to the full podcast here.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith reaffirmed that being benched in favor of Dwyane Wade “hurt” — particularly after he was initially told that Wade would be the one backing him up.
Appearing on Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye’s “Road Trippin'” podcast, Smith revealed that he had initially been led to believe Wade was being acquired for the second unit before coach Tyronn Lue told him the news.
“Honestly, I was hurt, man,” Smith said, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I was really emotionally drained at that point. I got wind of it that it was going to go down, but I didn’t know. I was told he’s going to be great for the second unit. … It would be a great fit for the team, whatever, whatever. I’m like, ‘Awesome, let’s do it. One hundred percent. Out of all people, another person we’re going to just grab for damn-near nothing? For sure. Let’s do it.’
“‘Well, we got to start him.’ ‘Wait, what? Now we’re talking about two totally different things. Wait a minute.'”
Smith admitted that the u-turn threw him off, and he had to readjust his thinking.
“My first initial thought, it wasn’t even to be selfish because that’s not just who I am as a player and as a person,” Smith said. “I’m a one-track mind. It’s what I’ve always been. That’s just me. So when you tell me something, I look at it as gold. So when you tell me something else, literally a couple of days later, it’s like, ah, now I got to change my mind frame from where I was at the last three years to flip it back to me being the sixth man — a successful three years, an extremely successful three years, I mean, we’ve been to three straight Finals.
“So to revert back, and the first thing I thought about was New York, like, ‘Damn. I got to go back to being the sixth man and just scoring, scoring, scoring. Being aggressive.’ And at the same time, also, I’m looking at our lineup like, my first thought with the lineup was, ‘OK, but who is going to stretch the floor? OK, we got Jae [Crowder], who is a knock-down 3-point shooter, Kev [Kevin Love] is a knock-down 3-point shooter, but that’s two out of the five guys that’s got to be on the floor.”
Smith has made no secret of the fact that he was not happy to be benched in favor of Wade. If he was initially told that wouldn’t happen, you can really understand why.
After three seasons as a starter for the most successful era of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball ever, guard J.R. Smith is being shifted to the bench to make room for Dwyane Wade — and he’s not thrilled about it.
Smith admitted Tuesday that he was “absolutely” frustrated to lose his starting spot to newcomer Wade, but that neither he nor fellow starter-turned-bench player Tristan Thompson planned to cause a ruckus in the locker room over it.
“We talked about it,” Smith told Joe Vardon of cleveland.com. “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together.”
Smith said he “kind of knew it” was going to happen when Wade was signed, seemed particularly aggrieved that the spot was simply taken away from him and he was not given the chance to outplay Wade in preseason to try and keep it.
“Was working hard all summer and then coming in and not even really having a chance to earn my spot, but it’s alright,” Smith said. “It is what it is.”
Smith also said, however, that he prefers the second unit.
“I actually like playing on the second unit better, I’m more of a playmaker and distributor and I handle the ball a little bit more instead of just running to the corner,” Smith said.
Wade may be the starter, but Smith will get his fair share of minutes — and probably a few starts when the veteran guard is rested.
JR Smith had some criticism of President Donald Trump for being at the Presidents Cup golf event on Sunday.
The Americans won the event in New Jersey for the seventh straight time. The Americans winning the event wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was seeing the sitting president attend the event on the final day and present the trophy — becoming the first sitting president to do both.
— Presidents Cup (@PresidentsCup) October 1, 2017
Here’s what the Cleveland Cavaliers guard tweeted in response:
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) October 1, 2017
Trump frequently criticized President Obama for golfing while on the job, which makes his actions even more hypocritical. He was golfing on Saturday at a time when American citizens in Puerto Rico are struggling to recover from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.