You’ve surely seen the clip by now. At the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, J.R. Smith secured a vital offensive rebound with the score tied at 107-107, with roughly four seconds left on the clock. Rather than attempt a shot, or call time out, or pass to LeBron, he scurried away from the scrum of players under the basket and basically allowed time to expire. Sure, he passed the ball at the very last second and George Hill got off a shot that was blocked by Draymond Green. But the question left on everyone’s mind was simply “what the hell was J.R. Smith doing?”
Even LeBron stared him down with an expression that part ice cold, part fiery rage, part disbelief.
How can you not know the score of the NBA Finals game you’re currently playing in, man?!?!?
Here’s the clip, in case you need a refresher:
JR Smith didn’t know the score?! Chaos heading into overtime… pic.twitter.com/NdKGnz30Cu
— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) June 1, 2018
Although he appeared to tell LeBron “I thought we were ahead” in the video, we’re not professional lip readers. After the game, though, Smith claims to knew exactly what the score was. He offered a bunch of reasons for his decision-making, but are they convincing? You decide:
JR Smith says he knew the game was tied at the end of regulation. Was preparing for a timeout. pic.twitter.com/vQWVqL7Mmx
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) June 1, 2018
“George shot the free throw, I got the rebound. Tie ballgame and we had a timeout. I tried to get enough space to maybe get a shot off. K.D. was standing right there. I tried to bring it out and get enough space to maybe get a shot off. I looked over at ‘Bron and he looked like he was trying to call a timeout. So I stopped, and the game was over.”
When pressed by a reporter on whether he know if the score was tied or not, Smith insisted he was aware.
“I knew we were tied. I just thought he was going to call a timeout because I got the rebound.”
We should point out that Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue spoke prior to Smith, and told reporters that Smith definitely thought the game was over and that Cleveland had won. The team later released a statement indicating that Lue hadn’t spoken to Smith yet, and was mistaken.