J.R. Smith’s infamous Game 1 mistake actually managed to break LeBron James, physically.
When J.R. Smith made the gaffe that changed everything for the Cleveland Cavaliers, we suspected that he might have just broken LeBron James.
Now we know he did — physically.
There was no way that King James wouldn’t have been heated after Smith, not known for his attention to detail, literally cost them a golden opportunity to get at least one game against the far more superior Warriors. Just take a look at the Cavaliers bench and you would have gotten a sense of what the post-game reaction would have looked like:
What happened in the locker room after the worst mental lapse in NBA Finals history was purely speculation until after Golden State swept them out of the Finals. Brian Windhorst, the man who knows everything there is to know about LeBron, reported that James was playing with an injured right hand for the entire series.
Because he punched the blackboard after their Game 1 loss.
James confirmed that he was playing with an injured hand in the press conference following the Cavs embarrassing performance in Game 4. James said he kept the injury a secret because he didn’t want the Warriors to know and take advantage. They probably would have lost even if LeBron’s hand was healthy but it certainly didn’t make things easier.
J.R. Smith proved in the last two Finals that he just isn’t the player that he once was. He was once a reasonably effective defender and a streaky 3-point shooter.
Now, he isn’t even that. He’s a liability, one that the Cavs should explore getting rid of this offseason.
They won’t have anything to lose since King James will not return to Cleveland next season unless they make more roster changes, which translate into getting rid of Smith.