Things were going so well for J.R. Smith—at least until the second-round series with the Indiana Pacers began. It seemed he was in line to shake some of the negative on-court labels he'd been given in his career.
Moreover, Smith seemed destined to get paid once he exercised his player option during the offseason.
He'll still get a raise from his 2012-13 salary of $2,932,742, per Spotrac, but he likely lost a few million with his performance against the Pacers.
After a regular season that saw him earn the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award, he was less-than-award-worthy when his team needed him.
The New York Knicks were dispatched in six games, and Smith's numbers were down from the regular season in nearly every category.
In the deciding game of the series, Smith was an abysmal 4-of-15 from the field and 2-of-9 from beyond the arc.
He had just 15 points.
New York desperately needed a consistent second scorer to take pressure off Carmelo Anthony, but Smith was anything but consistent.
Melo struggled with his shot most of the series. A big reason for that was the defense of the abundantly underrated Paul George. Smith was the man who needed to pick up the slack.
The Pacers didn't have another elite perimeter defender to throw at Smith. He had good looks throughout most of the series; he simply couldn't knock down his shots.
This may have seemed like a breakout season for Smith, but what he did in the Pacers series was more in line with what he has done in the playoffs throughout his career.
|Playoff Numbers Prior to 2012-13 Season||12.6||3.6||.407||.318||.729||2|
Teams who are eyeing deep postseason runs want players who raise their game in the second season. Smith didn't do that. In fact, his comments before Game 6 sounded like a man prematurely resigned to his fate.
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The first step is admitting there is a problem. "I take the blame for this whole series," – J.R. Smith http://t.co/8CAm2JEdQU5/15/2013, 5:28:39 PM
To his credit, he did play hard on Saturday night; that was evidenced by his 10 rebounds. However, the Knicks would have gladly traded a couple of those boards for two three-pointers.
While Smith delivered that through the first 82 games, his play in the second round has to make potential suitors wonder if he's worth the trouble.
Follow me, because I'll be tweeting pictures of me singing Phillip Phillps' Gone to the Knicks all weekend.