Considering how spectacular he has been this postseason, it was stunning to watch as LeBron James struggled mightily in Cleveland’s Game 3 loss to Boston. James failed to score at least 30 points on Sunday for the first time since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Indiana, tallying 11 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
There’s not a whole lot for most of us to dissect – LeBron had an off night, it’s something that happens to everyone, even the best basketball player in the world. But for J.R. Smith, he thinks he understands what was up. Smith, who has never lacked an ounce of confidence in his life, thought that his superstar teammate was timid in the loss. Smith articulated this during a media sessions after the Cavs practiced on Monday, and Marla Ridenour of Ohio.com brings word of what he told the press.
“He’s got to be aggressive, get downhill, play like he’s been playing, play confident,” Smith said after practice Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “That’s what I always think, when people of his stature or people like him, you’ve got to play confident the whole night and play aggressive.
“It’s the Eastern Conference finals. It’s not enough for him. For what he does, what he brings, it’s not enough. He knows that. We know that. Just expect him to be better in Game 4.”
LeBron criticized himself in a similar fashion, telling the media that he “didn’t have it” during the game. This is a debate that basketball fans have – when a superstar isn’t on their game, should they press and try to find their groove or sit back and try to let other guys get theirs? Considering the Cavaliers had a massive lead and its roster is so loaded with talent, it makes sense that LeBron would pick that second one. But we also saw the possible negative consequences of that mindset as the Celtics stormed back and LeBron struggled to get into a rhythm.
Still, it was one bad game for LeBron in a postseason where he has been out of his mind. Odds are he’ll be fine going forward, but if he’s not, at least he’ll have Smith there to give him constructive criticism.