J.R Smith Must Wake Up

Where’s the playoff pipe?

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Quasi-elbowing that was considered a real elbowing, a proclaimed funeral that was actually a near-death experience, clubbing excessively (not seals), Twitter ranting, and the like; J.R Smith has never been the same on the court. The inefficient Sixth Man of The Year in the playoffs as of recent has been worrisome. It’s at a point where people prefer him to be on the bench rather than on the court, so people’s eyes could be saved from the hydrochloric acid being poured into their eyes that is the ghastly shooting percentages posted ever since he came back from his quasi-Bill Cartwright elbow incident on Jason Terry. Of course, it’s J.R in a nutshell; his cool shooting performances resulted in a playoff homecoming of “Bad J.R,” and playoffs “Good J.R” is still nowhere to be found. Let’s take a look at his recent shooting percentages:

In his game 5 return against the Celtics, Smith shot 3-14, in which he missed his first ten shots before hitting a three late in the fourth quarter that got the Knicks within five points against the Celtics, the smallest margin they were down by. After the game, people used J.R being rusty as an excuse to defend one abysmal shooting outing. The people’s reasonings were absurd. Apparently, one of them was that the suspension kept J.R from shooting in the gym. Just, stop.

Anyways, here are J.R’s shooting lines from the last three games: 5-13, 4-15, and 3-15, respectively. Since the elbow incident, J.R has shot a combined 15-57 from the field; his field goal percentage in the playoffs as of this writing is 34%, with a true shooting percentage of 44%, which kind of masks his horrific field goal percentage because true shooting percentages rules. Reader warning:  If you take a look at his 2013 playoffs shot chart, you’ll be lucky to make it out alive. Take a look at his playoff shot chart as of today:

 J.R playoffs shot chart

 Are you alive, reader? Hey! You’re alive! It’s amazing you didn’t go blind. As you can see, a hot, steamy heaping pile of crap is currently being taken on J.R’s shooting stroke in the playoffs, particularly from both wings, which are his most popular shooting spots, from what I watched this season at the least. Although looking at the shot chart is very anguishing, it’s good to see that almost half of J.R’s shots were made in the paint, bringing his attack-the-rim mentality from his stretch of brilliant play from March to the playoffs. But no matter how well something works for the Knicks, they revert to macabre tendencies that can suck and even throw the majority of the game i.e Carmelo Anthony iso in the wrong situations against the Celtics in the first round that made the Celtics orchestrate a ridiculous almost-mid-to-late 4th quarter comeback run.

J.R is unpredictable, and that’s an understatement. He could go 5-15 one game and 10-16 the next game (I felt like using those numbers). We should all know this by now from watching J.R’s erratic shooting with the Knicks for the past one and a half seasons (acquired mid-season in February) and for essentially his whole career going back to New Orleans with the Hornets (those were great times).

Since I’m not a reporter that can’t go behind the scenes at Knicks practice, I bet that Mike Woodson is probably jumping on J.R’s ass constantly, and for good reason; the big gaping hole in his shooting form. Woodson actually already did do that on the court on live TV during game 2 against the Pacers a few nights ago when a very audible Woodson screamed out “GOD DAMNIT J.R” after missing a layup in the paint that was later called a travel. Maybe Woody is leaving the shooting stroke stuff to shooting coach extraordinaire, Dave Hopla (HOPLA THA GAWD).  The ongoing season-long clubbing (not seals) jokes have been supposedly disproved because J.R went on a mini Twitter rant about it, but we can still tag his shooting struggles with clubbing jokes because it’s totally necessary with the way he is shooting at the moment. I’ll be telling those jokes to my future kids.

Knick fans are saying that J.R needs to be efficient. WELL, YOU THINK SO? NO KIDDING! It’s obvious that J.R needs to be shooting efficiently. Saying he shouldn’t have to shoot efficiently is like getting hit in the face with a gigantic water balloon. Taking the shooting tussles out on Carmelo Anthony would be the wrong thing to do. People use Melo as a scapegoat because, you know, he’s the superstar, so of course it was imminent. In fact, Melo shot well in game 2 against the Pacers, hitting half of his shots, rebounding himself after a dreadful game 1, even though he had a double-double; he just had a terrible shooting night.

In game 4 against the Celtics, the game where J.R got suspended, the Knicks showed that they didn’t need their main bench scoring option to force an overtime. The Pacers may not be that much different from the Celtics offensively because they’re both maladroit on offense, hence them having a 103.1 ORtg during the regular season, but they’re basically the same on defensive end; hard-nosed, smash mouth basketball is in theaters for your Eastern Conference basketball viewing pleasure (and boredom if you hate defensive-oriented games. I love them). It’s a totally different series for J.R to get his shooting form back on track against the Pacers. J.R has already shot 7-30, with a dismal 3-13 from the perimeter. I think J.R will find himself later in the series.

I wouldn’t say the series going to seven games is inevitable, but it’s very possible and likely that it may go to seven games, given not only the vindictive history between the Knicks and the Pacers, but also because of, as I said before, the rough n’ tough basketball of the Eastern Conference. If so, I hope J.R will really heat up in the later games of the series. And he will because he’s J.R Smith and I’m not (well, somewhat). And besides, don’t let phony elbows from more than week ago get in your head anyways, J.R.

Follow James on Twitter @j_griff