– Evan Sally
Thoughts on Eastern Conference Finals Game 1: Cavaliers 97,Hawks 89
The JR Smith Show
JR Smith was the surprise star of the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. He had 28 points on 10 of 16 shooting, including going 8 of 12 from 3. The 8 3’s were a Cavaliers playoff record. JR was at his streaky best last night,
scoring 17 points in the span of 6 minutes of game time, effectively putting the game out of reach. JR is known for being a streaky shooter that loves to shoot a lot, and with his bad habit for jacking up bad shots at the wrong time, he shot many of his teams out of the game in past years. Usually to get the best out of him, he needs to show restraint and try to get his shots in the rhythm of the offense. Last night was an example of how devastating he can be as an opponent when he gets hot. He plays with a swagger and confidence that’s infectious to his teammates. Of course you can’t expect him to play like this regularly. I wouldn’t expect to see him to do it again this series. Cavaliers fans have to be happy to have a confident JR Smith coming off their bench to provide instant offense.
The Hawks suffered what appeared to be a brutal break when DeMarre Carroll went down with an apparent brutal knee injury in the 4th quarter. If you have any experience watching sports, any time you see an athlete go down without anyone else making contact you know that’s usually a recipe for a catastrophic injury. Hawks fans got great news this morning after it was discovered that his
knee didn’t suffer any structural damage and his status is day to day. Unfortunately, besides Jeff Teague’s 27 points that was about the only good news that stemmed from last night’s game. Kyle Korver was still unable to get going only taking 5 shots. He spent most of the game with Cavaliers players draped all over him. He has to get going to revive an offense that scored only 89 points last night, a far cry from the 102 they average per game during the regular season. They were unable to slow down LeBron last night who went for 31 points 8 rebounds and 6 assists. This is a task always easier said than done. LeBron will always get his numbers but you have to make it difficult for him, and the Hawks didn’t do that. Paul Millsap got stuck with LeBron duty after Carroll went down, and LeBron toyed with him, literally laughing at him at points when Millsap was trying to guard him. Carroll didn’t do much better earlier. It’s going to take a team effort defensively to slow down LeBron for the Hawks to have any chance in this series and that needs to start in Game 2.