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Two days later Brad
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, there is still no clarity on what J.R. Smith knew
when he grabbed that offensive rebound in the final seconds of regulation of
Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Not even in Smith’s own mind.

”I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point,” Smith said.

All he and the Cleveland Cavaliers are sure of now is this: They’re down 1-0
to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, with Game 2 on Sunday night and
Smith knowing that he’s gimageoing to be booed, made fun of, mocked and probably
worse by the crowd at Oracle Arena.

Smith became one of the big Game 1 stories for all the wrong reasons . He
grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw in the final seconds of
regulation with the game tied, then ran toward midcourt as if he was running out
the clock and thinking Cleveland had a one-point lead. The Cavaliers wound up
losing in overtime.

”He probably took that loss as hard as anybody on the team,” Cavs star LeBron
James said Saturday. ”But one thing about J.R., he has an uncanny ability to
bounce back. I think people have seen that throughout our postseason
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, where he hasn’t played well or played to
his ability that he thinks he should have played, and then the next game he
comes on and shoots the ball extremely well.”

That bounce-back tendency for Smith will be tested now like perhaps never
before. This wasn’t just a gaffe. This was a huge gaffe, in the final seconds of
the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the game on the line. And in
the immediate aftermath, it appeared Smith said to James on the court that he
thought the Cavs were leading – something he denied afterward.

”I might have said that,” Smith said. ”Not sure, but I might have.”

To say Smith was the reason Cleveland lost Thursday night isn’t right, or
fair. There’s no guarantee that Cleveland would have scored to win the game in
those final seconds if Smith had done anything differently.

Still, he was blamed.

”I’m glad it happened to me as opposed to anybody else on my team Logan
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,” Smith said. ”To be in that situation is tough
and it’s not a situation everybody can handle, so I’m glad it happened to
me.”

Smith spent Friday in his hotel room for the most part, watching the Memorial
(”Tiger played really well,” Smith said), talking with Kyle Korver and visiting
with his kids over FaceTime.

He knows he’s a punch line. He’s been there before.

”That’s pretty much who I’ve been my whole life,” said Smith, who bonded with
a therapy dog earlier this season during a rough stretch. ”I’ve always been the
one guy who’s the butt of the jokes, or that one guy who does something crazy
and everybody’s got to look at or whatever the case may be. And then I come back
and be myself and play the next day. I don’t really dwell on things too much.
It’s been like that my whole life. That’s what it looks like it’s going to
continue to be.”

The Cavs have made clear that they’re not quitting on Smith.

They need him.

”He’s going to start. And no Blaine
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, I haven’t lost confidence,” coach Tyronn Lue said.
”J.R. can shake off anything, and when everybody tends to count J.R. out, that’s
when he comes through. So he’s definitely going to start again. He’s a big part
of what we do. That last play is over, it’s behind us and now we’ve got to move
on.”

A bounce-back game would be more than welcomed by Cleveland. When Smith is
good, the Cavs are really good.

Cleveland is 10-1 this season, including playoffs, when Smith scores more
than 15 points. The Cavaliers are 19-5 when he makes more than half his shot
attempts. They’re 20-9 when he makes at least three 3-pointers. Those are some
of the many reasons why Lue still has confidence in him Steven
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, and Smith clearly appreciates that.

”I’ve been playing like dogcrap all year and he’s stuck with me,” Smith said.
”So he’s one of the people who gives me the most confidence.”

And he’s due, too.

Smith has missed more than half his shots in eight straight games – his
longest such cold streak since November. The Warriors expect that Smith and the
rest of the Cavaliers will be more than ready for Game 2. And Smith said his
teammates still believing in him is helping.

”Everybody says it’s not just the one play or the reason why we lost,” Smith
said. ”Take it however you want it. My teammates have been great. Very
supportive.”

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