The Cleveland Cavaliers put together an incredible performance in game one against the Golden State Warriors to start off the Finals series. LeBron James went into super human mode, scoring 51 points, and almost carrying his team his team to victory. The game was tied at the end of regulation at 107 before the Warriors put the finishing touches on a 124-114 victory. Close, but no cigar for the Cavaliers.
The game’s regulation period ended with a missed free throw by George Hill that was rebounded by JR Smith with 4.7 seconds to play. Smith dribbled the ball outside of the three point line before confusedly throwing the ball to George Hill in the corner. Hill wasn’t able to get a potential game winning shot off in time.
The fact that Smith pretty much threw the game has led the moment to be “memed” into history. All sports outlets are confused and blaming the loss on Smith. While he has to shoulder a lot of the blame, it’s not all his fault. Here, let’s talk about it.
NBA Finals: The last moments of game one were full of Cleveland’s mistakes
The free throw’s with 4.7 seconds in the fourth
Everyone talks about hitting shots when it matters. There are clearly some players who are remembered throughout history for hitting those humongous shots when it counted. George Hill is an 80% career free throw shooter. That means three out of five times he goes up to the line, he drains both shots easily.
Hill missed the free throw that could have left him in the history books. The free throw that could have put the Cavs up 1-0 on the series over a loaded Golden State team. The free throw he needed to make, he missed.
Somebody, please blame George Hill.
JR Smith running the clock down
JR Smith somehow miraculously came down with the rebound off Hill’s missed free throw. instead of throwing it out for the shot to win the game, or trying to put it into the basket himself, he dribbles the ball outside of the arch while watching LeBron James yelling for the ball. On the replay, it looks like he just ignores him. He whips the ball to George Hill in the corner with less then a second on the clock, and Hill tries to get the shot up in time but is unable to do so.
First mistake Smith made was not staying focused. It’s easy to presume that Smith just assumed Hill would hit both shots, and his brain registered that the score was 108-107. When he came down with the rebound, it probably didn’t click that it was tied. This can be assumed because on camera, he told LeBron that he thought the Cavs were up. So that’s a focus issue.
The second mistake that Smith made was to ignore LeBron. The King was begging Smith to throw up a shot or give him the ball, and he just ignored him. Then, he throws the ball to Hill in the corner. How do you in your right mind ignore the King?
This looks like there is a lack of trust in the locker room. How is the Cavaliers communication? Are they talking in the locker room? This play has simply raised a lot of questions about the chemistry on Cleveland’s roster.
JR Fueled the fire after the game
The Cavaliers reports were conflicting after the game. Head coach Tyronn Lue said that Smith thought they were winning. Smith followed up in his presser saying that he knew they were going to overtime.
Today, he said that he didn’t know what went down. “I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point,” he said during a press conference on Saturday.
Smith’s consistent denying of the fact that he thought they were up has fueled this fire of anger and caused more speculation about his motives at that point of the game. Instead of just taking responsibility for making a mistake, perhaps the biggest mistake of the year, Smith continues to deny everything.
Where was the timeout?
When Smith dribbled the ball outside of the arc, Lue had a timeout in his pocket. Why didn’t he call it, and then use the timeout to draw up a play? Lue had the opportunity to cover Smith’s blunder, and then give the Cavs a chance to get a very good shot. With LeBron’s game winning shots he has made this postseason run, its very confusing to what he was thinking.
LeBron tried to call a timeout with less then a second left, so why wasn’t he granted one? Had Lue stripped LeBron of his privileges to call timeouts on the court? If so, why? Again, this is the coaches fault for not calling a timeout and pulling his team together for a good final play.
While everyone is blaming JR Smith for an extreme bonehead play, it can’t all fall on Smith. Lue is equally responsible for it. Hill started the whole episode. Then there are people who are blaming LeBron for this somehow, no. He did everything that he could and it didn’t work. You can’t blame someone who doesn’t have the ball in his hands.
That play might cost the Cavaliers this series. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, let the LeBron is leaving Cleveland speculation continue…
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