The New York Knicks felt great heading into Wednesday night’s Game 5 showdown against the Boston Celtics. New York, coming off of a 97-90 overtime loss in Game 4, was up 3-1 in the series with Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith returning after serving a one-game suspension. In what was supposed to be a triumphant comeback, Smith embarrassed not only himself, but his entire team, as well.
Smith, not one to shy away from drama, taunted Boston’s Jason Terry, who received the elbow to the face that got the Knicks’ second leading scorer suspended, by pretending not to know who he was (via Boston.com).
Smith was asked about the Game 4 performance of Terry (18 points, including 9 in overtime). His response?
“Who?” Smith said. “I don’t even know who that is.”
It didn’t stop there.
Asked another question about Terry, Smith kept up the charade.
“Who?” he said again. “Who is that?”
But that was just the beginning.
“Oh yeah, it would've been over," Smith said on Tuesday following the team's Game 4 loss. "I'd have been playing golf today.”
If you thought the mindlessly arrogant quotes stopped there, you'd be wrong. Prior to Game 5, Kenyon Martin went around telling all of his teammates to wear black in preparation for Boston’s “funeral.” Martin told Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News his plans.
“We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin said.
As one would expect, Smith showed up in New York dressed entirely in black.
Well, there was no funeral Wednesday night, and the Knicks will not be playing golf any time soon.
Smith came into Madison Square Garden as the cockiest player on either team. Once the actual game started, though, that confidence seemed to wane considerably. Smith proceeded to miss his first 10 shot attempts, shot 3-of-14 for a meager 14 points in 36 minutes and stood by helplessly as the team that he had been taunting for days outworked his Knicks for a 92-86 victory.
Everything that Smith did in Game 5 was either in isolation or was a contested fadeaway jumper—he stopped trying to get to the rim and just continued to fire up shots with no rhythm. Smith and Carmelo Anthony (22 points) combined to shoot 11-38, and when those two both struggle, the chance of their team losing goes through the roof.
If Smith wants to move on to the next round of the playoffs, he had better give the Knicks a Sixth Man of the Year performance on Friday in Game 6. Otherwise, if Boston can steal the series from New York with Smith still struggling, the only funeral he will be attending will be the one to mourn the idea of him getting a max-contract this summer.