New York Knicks swingman J.R. Smith sat back on Sunday and watched the Knicks miss a golden opportunity to win their first playoff series in 13 years by sweeping the Boston Celtics.
The ever humble Smith made it known on Tuesday that the series would be over had he not been suspended for Game 4 for throwing an elbow at the head of Celtics’ guard Jason Terry.
“Oh yeah, it’d been over,’’ Smith told the New York Post’s Marc Berman, in his first comments since being handed the suspension. “I would’ve been playing golf today.’’
The more appropriate response should have been: “I apologize for letting my teammates and Knicks fans down, but I will make up for it in Game 5.”
Smith did let everyone down by throwing a foolish elbow with seven minutes remaining in a game that the Knicks led by 18.
He owes it to his teammates and fans everywhere to bring his best in Game 5, but hopefully the Sixth Man of the Year doesn’t take that too much to heart.
Smith is going to want to bring his best and do something big Wednesday night, but Knicks fans’ everywhere know what they are in store for if he has that mentality.
It’s going to be Mike Woodson’s job to reel his gunner in.
With pressure on Smith to perform, you don’t want to see him revert to the old J.R. who plays out of control and jacks up bad shots like they are going out of style.
If the Knicks get the new J.R., the one that has made a living by taking the ball to the basket and getting to the charity-stripe, then the Knicks will be just fine.
He has to play under control, not only Wednesday night, but the rest of the postseason.
The Celtics are going to try and bait Smith into doing something stupid every time he is on the floor.
He can’t take the bait and must stay within himself.
Smith has the ability to win big games for the Knicks, but he also has the ability to shoot the team right out of games. In this case, if that happens, he will be shooting the Celtics right back into the series.
He is going to get a free pass from Knicks fans for his actions in Game 3.
Smith has the opportunity to make up for it on Wednesday night.
If he doesn’t feel too much pressure to do too much, I expect him to do exactly that.
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