A flame-throwing J.R. Smith hit a franchise postseason record eight three-pointers Wednesday night, helping lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 97-89 Game 1 win over the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Smith finished with 28 points, nailing 10 of 16 shot attempts and grabbing eight boards.
LeBron James overwhelmed the Hawks with a game-high 31 points in the series-opener.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal:
Smith was sensational again and has been since returning from his two-game suspension. […] “It’s more for my mom,” Smith said. “She’s probably my biggest fan. When all those negative things are being said, me personally, I don’t really care. But for her, to see her hurting, to see her go through those situations, to feel the way she feels, it’s a terrible feeling for me because I know I’m putting her in those situations.”
Smith hit every shot imaginable Wednesday: good shots, bad shots, off-balance, step-back 3s, shots with a hand in his face, shots with no one in his face. When it was over, he had made 10 of 16 shots (8 of 12 from 3) and his 28 points were more than he has scored in any of his previous 59 career playoff games. […] Smith entered these playoffs a career 31 percent postseason shooter. He has struggled miserably in playoff games more times than not. Yet in five games since returning from his suspension, Smith is shooting 51 percent (20 of 39) from deep and his 10 baskets also matched his career postseason high.
The one caveat, the closest anyone came to paying Smith a compliment at the time of the deal, was one assistant GM offering how much better behaved Smith was in New York when Jason Kidd was around. Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year award when Kidd was his teammate with the Knicks, and the hope in Cleveland was LeBron James could do the same here. That’s likely what James was alluding to Wednesday night when he recalled telling the Cavs front office prior to the deal, “Get him here and I’ll take care of it.” […] “For me as a leader of a team, you always want to try to give someone an opportunity,” James said. “With the talent this guy presents, I knew the man he was and I didn’t really care about what everybody else thought about him.”