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J.R. Smith's NBA Finals blunder deserves a deep rewind | Warriors vs Cavaliers 2018

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12:03   |   May 12, 2019

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J.R. Smith's NBA Finals blunder deserves a deep rewind | Warriors vs Cavaliers 2018
J.R. Smith's NBA Finals blunder deserves a deep rewind | Warriors vs Cavaliers 2018 thumb J.R. Smith's NBA Finals blunder deserves a deep rewind | Warriors vs Cavaliers 2018 thumb J.R. Smith's NBA Finals blunder deserves a deep rewind | Warriors vs Cavaliers 2018 thumb

Transcription

  • - It's May 31st, 2018.
  • Game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.
  • The Warriors and Cavs are tied
  • with 4.7 seconds left on the clock
  • and Cleveland's George Hill has one remaining free throw.
  • The importance of a game one win on the road
  • cannot be overstated.
  • And the Cavaliers are in position to do just that,
  • but the only way to appreciate this moment,
  • is to explore the ones that came before it.
  • (mysterious music)
  • After sinking the first of two free throws,
  • George Hill has a chance
  • to give Cleveland a late lead,
  • a very late lead.
  • And this narrow margin is exactly what everyone expected
  • because of these two teams are facing off in the finals
  • for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Something that has never happened
  • in the four major North American Sports.
  • (tape recorder whirring) Their first match up
  • came in 2015.
  • The Warriors entered as the number one team in the NBA,
  • thanks in part to lead MVP, Steph Curry
  • and first-year head coach, Steve Kerr,
  • who chose to join Golden State
  • after mulling over the Knicks job.
  • That's what we call a good decision.
  • (static hissing) The Cavs came in
  • as the number two seed
  • in the East behind Atlanta.
  • And Atlanta team,
  • they swept in the Eastern Conference Finals
  • to earn their rightful place as kings of the East,
  • lead by the king himself, LeBron James.
  • But in the end, the crown was placed
  • at top of the heads of the Warriors.
  • Their first championship in 40 years.
  • The Cavaliers had lost
  • their All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving
  • to a knee injury in the first game of the series
  • and had been without forward Kevin Love
  • since he exited the first round
  • with a shoulder injury.
  • The following year, the two teams met for a finals rematch.
  • This time, both teams entered as one seeds,
  • but the Warriors brought
  • a little something extra to the table.
  • They finished the regular season
  • with an NBA record, 73 wins.
  • But this team was tested on their way to the finals.
  • Despite the best record of all time,
  • despite Steph Curry being the first unanimous MVP,
  • and despite him being part
  • of the highest scoring duo in the league,
  • alongside Klay Thompson,
  • the Warriors found themselves down three games to one
  • in the Western Conference Finals
  • against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook,
  • and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
  • But that just gave them the chance
  • to reiterate their dominance over the league,
  • as they became the 10th team in history
  • to come back from a 3-1 deficit.
  • The Warriors themselves then went up
  • three games to one over the Cavaliers
  • and that's when the king by sheer force of will
  • helped the Cavs string together back to back wins
  • to push the series to game seven.
  • Then while being locked at 89-89,
  • for almost three minutes at the end of the fourth quarter,
  • Andre Iguodala raced down the court to break the tie,
  • only to be denied by LeBron
  • with the most beautiful piece of defensive artwork
  • I have ever seen.
  • - [Announcer] Blocked by James!
  • LeBron James with the rejection!
  • - [Mike] After another minute locked at 89,
  • Kyrie Irving hit a three with Steph Curry
  • right in his face.
  • - [Announcer] It's good!
  • Kyrie Irving for downtown!
  • - [Mike] Under a minute left on the clock,
  • God's definition of clutch shooting.
  • The Warriors never scored another point
  • and the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first team
  • in NBA Final's history to come back
  • down three games to one,
  • en route to their first franchise title.
  • (scoreboard buzzing) - It's over!
  • It's over!
  • Cleveland is the city of champions once again!
  • - It's like we can make a whole video
  • out of each of those moments,
  • but this is not that video.
  • (soft dance music) The following year,
  • Kevin Durant joined the team he almost defeated
  • in the Western Conference Finals.
  • The best team in NBA history
  • gained a former MVP in his prime
  • and everyone thought he was super cool for doing so.
  • (static hissing) The Warriors got
  • their revenge on the Cavs,
  • winning the 2017 NBA Finals four games to one.
  • (static hissing) But here, one year later,
  • the Cavs are on the precipice of stealing game one
  • on the Warrior's home turf.
  • A momentum shift that would have ramifications
  • echoing throughout the rest of the series.
  • (tape recorder shifting) At the stripe
  • is Cav's point guard, George Hill,
  • Kyrie Irving's replacement.
  • Kyrie asked for a trade shortly
  • after the Cavs lost to the Warriors in the 2017 finals.
  • He was dealt to Boston in August
  • in exchange for a package including Isaiah Thomas.
  • But due to Thomas's injured hip,
  • he didn't make his Cleveland debut until January.
  • And his time with the team was short-lived,
  • as he was traded a month later to the Lakers.
  • The Cavs then made additional moves
  • at the trade deadline,
  • including a three-way trade with the Kings and Jazz
  • that netted them Rodney Hood
  • and our guy, George Hill.
  • (static hissing) Hill was drafted out of IUPUI,
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
  • If that doesn't ring a bell,
  • that's because he is the only NBA player
  • to come out of that university.
  • (static hissing) Hill had planned
  • to play for Florida,
  • but ultimately decided to stay close to home
  • to be near his ill grandfather.
  • (static hissing) He was drafted in 2008
  • with one year of college basketball eligibility left.
  • 10 years later on May 12th, 2018,
  • he graduated from IUPUI
  • and gave a speech to the rest of the graduating class.
  • Then, the following day on May 13th,
  • he started in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals
  • against the Celtics.
  • (static hissing) Now, with game one
  • of the NBA Finals on the line,
  • he's at the line,
  • sent there by Klay Thompson.
  • (tape recorder whirring) Thompson,
  • son of former NBA player, Mychal Thompson,
  • was drafted by the Warriors in 2011.
  • In 2012, he replaced fan favorite, Monta Ellis,
  • as the starting 2-guard
  • and became a new fan favorite
  • and 1/2 of the deadly-shooting duo,
  • known as the Splash Bros.
  • The Curry-Thompson duo was the main driving force
  • behind the Warrior's rise
  • to the top of the basketball world
  • and together, they're responsible
  • for changing the way the game is played
  • with their unprecedented shooting ability
  • from beyond the arc.
  • (tape recorder whirring) But here
  • in game one with near seconds left
  • on the clock in the fourth,
  • they're vulnerable.
  • Curry, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant
  • all turn their focus to LeBron.
  • This left Hill free to cut to the basket.
  • In desperation, Klay grabbed him
  • to stop an easy inside pass and layup.
  • It gives Cleveland a chance at the line
  • but it was still a smart defensive play by Thompson
  • who was almost knocked out of the game earlier.
  • (static hissing) With a little over six minutes
  • left in the first quarter,
  • Klay took a huge blow to his knee
  • that left him writhing in pain.
  • It was the same knee he had injured
  • in game four of the Western Conference Finals
  • and it sucked the wind out of every fan at Oracle Arena.
  • The body being flung into his leg,
  • well, that's J. R. Smith,
  • (tape recorder skidding) the best basketball player
  • to never know what's going on.
  • (static hissing) J.R. Smith has
  • a judgment problem.
  • He's really fun to watch,
  • but generally you prefer him to be on a different team.
  • (tape recorder whirring) In 2013,
  • he was part of miraculous blip
  • in New York Knicks basketball history
  • where they participated in the playoffs.
  • It was a Knicks team that relied on him,
  • but in game three of the first round against the Celtics,
  • he threw an ill-advised elbow
  • into the face of Celtic's guard, Jason Terry.
  • This amounted to a game four suspension for Smith
  • that helped Boston gain some momentum in the series.
  • Luckily for New York, they weathered it
  • and knocked off the Celtics in six.
  • The following round,
  • the Knicks went down three games to one against the Pacers.
  • Through those four games, J. R. shot
  • an absolutely dismal 18 for 64,
  • which prompted pop star Rihanna,
  • who he reportedly dated a year prior
  • to post on Instagram that his poor performance
  • was due to his nightly clubbing during the playoffs.
  • (static hissing) He claimed it wasn't true,
  • but honestly he played so bad,
  • I hope he was hungover.
  • (tape skidding) In January of 2014,
  • he put his awareness on display against the Rockets
  • with the shot clock turned off
  • and 21 seconds left on the game clock in a tie game.
  • J. R., instead of holding for the final shot,
  • just chucked up a three,
  • showing an absolute lack of awareness
  • of what was going on.
  • - [Announcer] What was he doing?
  • - [Announcer] I don't know, he wasn't thinking.
  • We know that.
  • - He even fess up later,
  • saying, "That's bad basketball IQ on me."
  • (static hissing) Yes sir, it is.
  • (static hissing) This came in the same month
  • that he received a $50,000 fine
  • for recurring instances of unsportsmanlike conduct,
  • which actually meant
  • he couldn't stop untying his opponent's shoelaces.
  • (static hissing) Okay, that one's pretty funny.
  • (tape whirring) In 2016,
  • now a member of the Cavs,
  • J. R. appeared to make up with Jason Terry,
  • who he had been suspended for elbowing him in the face.
  • The problem is he walked off the court
  • to say hello in the middle of a game,
  • allowing a completely uncontested dunk.
  • (static hissing)
  • (Mike clapping)
  • (tape whirring) In the closeout game
  • against the Pacers in the 2017 playoffs,
  • J. R. stole the ball
  • with about 10 seconds left on the clock
  • and the Cavs holding onto a three point lead.
  • He quickly decided to try a behind-the-back pass
  • instead of just holding the basketball.
  • The Pacers took the ball back,
  • but the Cavs still managed to close them out
  • (static hissing) because sometimes
  • you just have to hope
  • to survive the stupid stuff that J. R. does
  • and sometimes you have to just stare in amazement.
  • In March of this year, J.R. was suspended by the Cavs
  • for throwing soup at an assistant coach
  • because that's just the kind of guy he is.
  • None of this however,
  • should take away from J. R.'s importance
  • on this Cavalier's team,
  • including being a big part of the 2016 championship team,
  • but when he goes cold,
  • everyone can see their own breath.
  • In the Eastern Conference Finals,
  • he shot 14 of 54,
  • including 10 for 34 from downtown.
  • But the Cavs survived.
  • In this game one,
  • (static hissing) he's had some foolish plays,
  • including these two first-half turnovers.
  • (static hissing) And his shooting
  • hasn't improved from the previous series,
  • as he shooting two for nine,
  • but then again, the Cavs are surviving.
  • LeBron just won't let them fall.
  • Down by six at the start of the fourth quarter,
  • (foreboding dance music) LeBron has been unstoppable,
  • dropping 13 in the fourth quarter alone,
  • as he surpassed 40 points
  • for the eighth time in these playoffs.
  • (static hissing) This three point play
  • put the Cavs up two
  • with under a minute to play.
  • - [Announcer] Count in and won!
  • (static hissing) - This double clutch
  • again put the Cavs up by two
  • with now only 30 seconds left.
  • (static hissing) But Curry had an
  • and one of his own.
  • - [Announcer] Count it and won!
  • - [Mike] Down one with 23 seconds left,
  • LeBron and the Cavs took the ball down the court,
  • ready to steal game one
  • from the Warrior's clutches.
  • With all eyes on LeBron,
  • George Hill cuts to the basket
  • and is ripped backwards by Clay Thompson.
  • (static hissing) At the line,
  • Hill hits his first shot,
  • which brings us here. (static hissing)
  • (heart beating) A tied game
  • with mere seconds on the clock
  • and the Cavs have a timeout.
  • So, even if Hill misses,
  • they'll have a chance
  • (tape recorder skidding) to grab a rebound
  • and call time.
  • Or put up a quick shot for the win.
  • (static hissing) As these two teams battle
  • in the finals for the fourth consecutive time,
  • both look for a tone-setting game won win.
  • The Warriors having defeated the Cavs
  • two of the last three years are the favorite
  • but no team with LeBron James
  • could ever truly be an underdog in the finals
  • and the king is proving it
  • with his unstoppable fourth quarter performance.
  • (heart beating) If the Cavs are able
  • to steal a win on the road
  • to start the series,
  • it could give them the momentum they need
  • to give the city of Cleveland their second championship.
  • With the game tied at 107,
  • it all hangs in the balance.
  • Welcome to a moment in history.
  • (dramatic drum beats) - Hill misses.
  • Rebound goes to the Cavs!
  • J. R. Smith brings it back out!
  • Throws it to Hill! (scoreboard buzzing)
  • (whistle blowing) Hill's shot blocked!
  • (audience chatting) And we'll go to overtime.
  • You get the feeling J. R. thought
  • they pull off the lead. - You know, the block.
  • (television popping)

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Description

The Cavaliers and Warriors battled in the NBA Finals four consecutive years. LeBron James versus Steph Curry and the Warriors just became an expected matchup to end the season. But the last Finals series between these two teams wasn't quite as close as we had come to expect and it left a sour taste in the mouths of Cavs fans. It all started with a Game one slugfest, ending in one of the many mistakes made by wild card two guard, J.R. Smith.

Written and produced by Mike Imhoff
Directed by Ryan Simmons
Edited by Joe Ali and Ryan Simmons

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