Does J.R. Smith Deserve To Be Blamed For All Of The Knicks’ Recent Struggles?
The New York Knicks are in trouble right now. They trail the Indiana Pacers 3-1 in their best-of-7 playoff series. And even though Game 5 will be held back at Madison Square Garden in New York City, it appears as though the Pacers have all the momentum in the series. Part of that is because Indy is playing extremely well right now. And part of it is because, frankly, the Knicks just cannot seem to hit a shot. Specifically, their usually-reliable sharpshooter J.R. Smith has been off in almost every game in the series. In fact, he’s been so off that after the Knicks lost Game 4 on Tuesday night, he came out and said that he was to blame for all of the Knicks’ recent struggles.
“I take the blame for this whole series,” he told reporters after shooting a woeful 7-for-22 from the field. “It started off with Game 4 in Boston or Game 5. I haven’t been playing myself. I haven’t been playing my part. I’ve been letting my teammates down. I’ve been letting my coaches down…I have to play more efficient. It’s unacceptable.”
But is Smith the only one to blame? Not at all. Just about every player on the Knicks, save for Carmelo Anthony, has played poorly during the Pacers series. From Tyson Chandler, who has struggled to contain Roy Hibbert, to guys like Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd, who have given the Knicks very little off the bench, the Knicks have looked atrocious in the last two games. It’s gotten so bad that Knicks fans are already talking about what they need to do this offseason—and, more specifically, who they need to pick up—in order to turn the team into a true championship contender.
But the truth is that the Knicks’ entire philosophy needs to change if they want to play with the big boys in the NBA. They can’t rely so heavily on guys like Anthony and Smith to make jump shots. Because, if they do, they run into problems when one or both of them has an off night or, in this case, an off series. Shooting slumps like the one J.R. Smith is experiencing happen. But it doesn’t mean he deserves all of the blame. Some? Sure. But the Knicks as a whole have struggled against the Pacers. And unless they can all get on the same page in Game 5, their collective struggles are going to end their season.