The Cavaliers are going to need all the firepower they can muster in this series against the Toronto Raptors, so Game 1 was the perfect time for one of their old weapons to start hitting the target again.
"Yeah, especially after the way I've been shooting all year", J.R. Smith told me during a one-on-one interview at the team hotel on Wednesday.
Smith is referring to both his 20-point performance in Game 1, and his 8.3 points-per-game during the regular season, his lowest average in 13 years.
It was a performance that Smith, and the Cavaliers, desperately needed.
"Something like last night can get you out of that long slump, especially in the playoffs...you need to motivate yourself going into Game 2," he said.
"Swish," as he's known to fans, was a key part of two big runs in the series opener, throwing down 11 points in the second quarter as the Cavs rallied from 14 points down, and hitting a big "3" in the fourth as they erased a 10-point deficit. He also nailed a booming shot from beyond the arc in overtime, and overall was 5 of 6 from the 3-point line.
This is not the J.R. Smith the Raptors were hoping to see. They dare other teams to hit "3's".
On Tuesday night, Swish did just that.
I asked him if he believes the Cavs, who have knocked out the Raptors the past two seasons, are in their opponent's heads.
"I don't know about that", Smith answered. "They're still a really good team. They've got a great bench. I mean, they've been here before, as have we."
Yep. Tuesday night definitely looked, and felt, familiar for J.R.
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