J.R. Smith hurting Cavs on both ends

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J.R. Smith played 28 minutes for the Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, scoring four points on 2-12 shooting and missing all eight 3-pointers he attempted. The eight 3-point misses are tied with Ray Allen for second-most misses without a make in an NBA Finals game and the Cavs were outscored by 28 points when he was on the floor, the worst plus-minus of any player. Here’s a look at why a significant claim could be made that J.R. Smith is the worst player in this series.


J.R. Smith is shooting 7-for-28 on 3-pointers in this series, but it’s not the attempts alone that are the problem, it’s the type of attempts.

Smith has attempted 21 contested 3-pointers in the first four games of this series, more than any other Cavs player and trailing only Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. For a guy who shot 44 percent on contested 3s in the previous two rounds and has said he prefers contested looks, this may not seem like a problem. However, he’s made just three contested 3s in the Finals, a shooting percentage of 14 percent.


In the postgame media conference after Game 4, LeBron James talked about shots not falling for Smith but that he wouldn’t give up on him. For the series, Smith is just 3-12 shooting off of passes from James, including 3-11 on 3s. The rest of the Cavaliers have rewarded James by making over 50 percent of their shots off of his passes including 46 percent on 3s.


Smith’s defense has not paid any dividends for the Cavs. As the primary defender in this series, he has given up 52 points, tied with Tristan Thompson for the most by any Cavaliers player. He’s given up the same number of points as Thompson but on 17 fewer plays and while not being nearly as disruptive. On 44 plays as the primary defender, Smith has not forced a single turnover and has also committed 10 shooting fouls, twice as many as any other Cavaliers player.


Given the bad shooting and bad defense, it’s no surprise then that the Cavaliers have been outscored by 48 points with Smith on the floor in this series. In the 70 minutes he’s been off the floor, the Cavaliers have outscored the Warriors by 26.

The Cavaliers' offensive efficiency when Smith is on the floor in this series is 81.5, which would be the worst mark of any team in the last 30 years if it were for a full season. However, when Smith was off the floor, the offensive efficiency shoots up to 113.5, which would have been the best in the NBA this season over a full season.