Just when you think the J.R. Smith blunder in Game 1 had been put to rest, new video surfaced after Game 2 showing LeBron James and the Cavs bench right after regulation had ended. For the most part, the huddle is quiet with stunned looks on the players faces. Towards the end of the video, James is seen asking Ty Lue if the team had any timeouts.
Once James learned the team had a timeout, James covered his face with a towel in sheer disappointment. James would later explain he was going to call a timeout, but was worried the team did not have any remaining. If Cleveland had called a timeout without any left, a technical foul would have been assessed giving the Warriors a potentially game-winning free throw opportunity.
You can watch the condensed version in the above video, or watch the clips below from Ball is Life, which are just over three minutes long.
“Damn cameras. I finally got Game 1 out of my head. You’re taking me back, huh?” James joked to Cleveland.com. “..I don’t know if I had enough time because I was kind of a little bit still in shock of what was going on at that point in time. I got to the bench, first thing that came to my mind I was like, OK, I was calling a timeout. But hopefully, I’m glad maybe if we didn’t have any, I’m glad they didn’t give it to me. I didn’t want another C-Webb [Chris Webber] incident. So I asked our coaching staff if we had a timeout. And they told me, yes. I guess y’all probably seen the reaction from that point on.”
James was referencing Chris Webber calling a timeout during the 1993 Final Four between Michigan and North Carolina as shown below.
Smith struggled in Game 2, and it is difficult to imagine that Game 1 did not have some impact on his play. The Warriors crowd started mock “M-V-P” chants directed at Smith, and the Cavs guard never got into a rhythm.
“I’ve got to shoot the ball better, I’ve got to defend better and be more vocal on defense,” Smith explained to the New York Post. “I’m always a person who the fans like to talk to or heckle. I like it. I’d rather them do that than not acknowledge me at all. I appreciate it.”
Smith has offered conflicting explanations since opting to run out the clock in Game 1 instead of going for the game-winning putback. Based on the highlights, it seems reasonable to conclude Smith thought the Cavs were ahead instead of tied. Smith looks to be mouthing, “I thought we were ahead” in the clip below.
Former teammate Iman Shumpert offered his own explanation in a visit to a New York radio station (via USA Today).
In a perfect world, J.R. gets that rebound and we say ‘we win.’ Because it’s a tie game, he’s going to shoot it. So if he makes it, we good. If he misses it, we go to overtime. But J.R. got it, we’re good. J.R. got that ball and started thinking. But how many times have you seen J.R. with a thinking face in the middle of a game? He was unaggressive and he was thinking. And he shouldn’t have been thinking. But he was thinking so that nobody would talk about him. And now everybody’s talking about him?