J.R. Smith could be the spark to bring the New York Knicks back into their series against the Indiana Pacers.
In Game 1, he scored 17 points but was held to 4-of-15 shooting, certainly not a good percentage for a guy that is expected to be the complement to Carmelo Anthony.
In the playoffs, the Knicks are undefeated in games where Smith shoots 35 percent from the field or better. However, two of the three losses the Knicks have suffered in the playoffs came in games where Smith shot below 27 percent.
The third loss came in Game 4 against the Celtics, a game Smith missed entirely.
So while Anthony is certainly the superstar looked upon to carry the Knicks, it has been Smith's production that has had a big factor in deciding his team's success in each game.
In Game 2 against the Pacers, the Knicks will look to Smith to get them back on track after dropping Game 1.
Smith will be guarded primarily by Lance Stephenson, the Pacers' starting shooting guard.
Smith is one of the most athletic players in the league, so he'll have to use that athleticism to get to the bucket against the slower Stephenson.
It will be on the defensive end that Smith will have to utilize his athleticism the most. In Game 1, Stephenson had 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. While that's not incredible production on the scoreboard, efficient scoring on limited shot attempts is something Smith will want to eliminate.
Stephenson made his biggest impact on the boards in Game 1, though. He pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for the Pacers. Smith will have to keep Stephenson off the glass to force David West and Roy Hibbert to do the job they're supposed to do: Rebound.
Smith is the ultimate X-factor for the Knicks. Anthony will get his production, but if Smith is struggling, it will be an uphill battle for the team. And that's proven to be true throughout the playoffs.
However, if he proves to be the perfect complement to Anthony like he has shown he can be at times, the Knicks may be unstoppable.
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