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J.R. Smith, Cavaliers

The J.R. Smith Madness of Game 1

No one controls a basketball game like LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers icon put together perhaps the greatest offensive performance in NBA history. But even King James’ reign can’t overcome the madness of J.R. Smith, who is just dangerous enough to hurt both teams, but increasingly more a problem for his own.

It is said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over against but expecting a different result. Four years in, it’s tough to figure whether the madness lies in Smith, or the Cavaliers for relying on him.

You can see the same mistakes play out on the court. Early on, J.R. Smith made a foolish attempt for a steal he had no chance of getting, slipping on the floor and falling into Klay Thompson’s legs.

Later, at the end of the first half, Smith made the same steal attempt, trying to shoot the gap on a pass to Stephen Curry in the closing seconds, only to give up a wide open 3-pointer at the buzzer.

It says so much about the Cavaliers that they rely on Smith to the extent that they do. Cleveland did so many things right in Game 1, from attacking the weak links in the Warriors’ defense with LeBron James to getting an acceptable defensive performance from Kevin Love. Cleveland outplayed the Warriors to the extent that they should have won.

LeBron James was in complete control of the game, and no one controls a game like LeBron James. But J.R. Smith is a madness no one can quite grasp.