Amidst public controversy, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith remain focused on Game 3

“The other two” have shown moments of basketball brilliance

Jonathan Peterlin
June 05, 2018 - 2:43 pm

© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – There are just four players left from the 2016 title team and each can bring invaluable experience to a situation that they have been in before. Trailing 2-0 against the Warriors. This Golden State team as well as the feel to this series is different though.

“The other two” is what I’ll call them for now. Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith are often overshadowed by LeBron and Kevin Love, and rightfully so, but the two have been in the spotlight for different reasons surrounding each of the two Finals games played so far.

“The other two” have shown moments of basketball brilliance, but those moments seem fleeting.

Even thought there are a number of reasons why the Cavs made it out of the first round, it’s simple to look at Tristan’s Game 7 performance where he went 15/10 after three DNP’s as the reason why the wine and gold are even here.

Game 1 against Golden State saw the 27 year old play 20 minutes grab 5 boards and make just one shot from the field. He followed it up by playing better in Game 2, but when questioned about feeling helpless guarding Golden State’s Steph Curry, the veteran had strong words before leaving the media scrum.

Tristan didn’t back down that sentiment on Tuesday.

“That was a dumb question, it just didn’t make any sense. It’s basketball. If a Two time MVP scores on you with a good contest, you got to live with it, but there’s time we are guarding him and he’s missing. Sometimes he scores, sometimes he blocks the shot.”

For J.R. it was the Toronto series that saw him really shine along with his three 3’s in Game 7 at the Garden.

That doesn’t excuse their blunders, and they have each had a couple moments that has left fans scratching their heads. J.R. had bad performances like Game 1 and Game 5 against Boston, or the end of game possession that will live in Finals history. When questioned on video that surfaced recently showing LeBron and J.R. having no communication after the blunder, the Saint Benedict’s Prep alum said LeBron had his back.

“He spoke to us, he’s going to get criticized regardless, nobody over here is losing any sleep over what anyone else has said that is not in our locker room. It’s the finals, we got to take care of business.”

Ultimately, both players will have to be better if the Cavs want to take the series back to the Oracle. They aren’t alone though as contributions for LeBron have been slim. Both seemed to think coming back home would make a world of difference in getting their games back. J.R. on getting back to the Quicken Loans Arena. 

“We know they’re not the Celtics so we have to go out there and compete every play. Our crowd is going to be pretty into it, so we have to step it up. We just play well here, we feed off the energy of our crowd and take pride in defending our home court. We just have to make sure we take care of business.”

Tristan echoed the sentiment of his teammate.

“It should be huge tomorrow for us to come back home. We expect the crowd to be high level energy. Our crowd is one of the best in the league, we owe it to them to come out tomorrow and leave it on the line.”

Neither player made too much of a deal with erasing the deficit against Boston because they understand the Warriors are a much better team. This Cavs team when both are playing at high levels is too though.