JR Smith insinuated that teammate LeBron James lacked confidence in the Celtics’ improbable 111-108 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
James did not speak to reporters Monday, but his squad rallied to his defense.
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) May 22, 2017
“Play confident,” Smith said, when asked for his reaction to James’ 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting in a stunning 111-108 loss to the Celtics in the conference finals. “That’s my only thing. People of his stature, well, there’s only three, but people like him, you gotta play confident the whole night and play aggressive.
“I mean, it’s the Eastern Conference finals. It’s not enough, for him, for what he does, for what he brings. It’s not enough. He knows that. We know that. Just expecting him to be better in Game 4.”
Smith chalked it up to a lack of confidence in James, which is also stunning considering his three championships, four MVPs, and body of work in the playoffs both this season and last (when he brought the Cavs back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Warriors in the Finals).
“I mean, I never have that problem,” said Smith, who scored 13 points to go with eight rebounds in Game 3. “I’ve been confident every time I’ve stepped on the court, whether I’m falling out of bounds or shooting a free throw, confidence is something I never lack. That’s my job as his teammate and as his friend is making sure he stays confident in what he does, and you know, just trying to get him out of it.”