One key moment stood out for many NBA fans watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, and that was JR Smith’s blunder right at the end of regulation time.
After Cavs’ George Hill had missed his second free-throw attempt with the score tied at 107, Smith grabbed the offensive rebound, but instead of going for another shot or passing it to LeBron James, he decided to dribble it towards the halfway line, away from the basket and his teammates.
Smith dribbled the ball as time expired, forcing the game to go into overtime and leaving many people confused by his decision to let the clock expire when he had an opportunity to win the game.
The Cavs star was left regretting his decision to dribble the ball rather than shoot, as the Warriors ended up winning the game 124-114 by the end of overtime. They now have a 1-0 lead in the Finals series.
Initially, the cameras caught James reacting in a state of disbelief and disgust towards Smith for dribbling the ball away from the basket rather than taking on the shot. However, he took a different approach when he spoke to the media.
The four-time MVP winner said to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated after the game: “We’ve got to move on. This game is over and done with. I would never give up on J.R. I never give up on any of my players, any of my teammates.”
No matter what LeBron says, the mistake by Smith to not take the shot on ultimately led to the Warriors winning the game and taking a lead in the series. We could have a series-defining moment as early as Game 1.
There were other moments late on in the game though that could have changed the outcome into the Cavaliers favour, as Hill could’ve made his second free throw, and Lue could’ve called a timeout, so it’s unfair to pin the blame on Smith.
LeBron is right though, the Cavs have to move on and not think about their mistakes in order to get back in the series. Game 2 takes place on Sunday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland once more.
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