Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
J.R. Smith Says Series Would’ve Been Over if He Had Played Game 4
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — J.R. Smith says the Knicks would’ve swept the Celtics had he been playing in Game 4 on Sunday.
“Oh, yeah, it’d been over, it would’ve been over,” he said Tuesday after practice. “I would’ve been playing golf today.’
After being suspended one game for elbowing Jason Terry in the face in Game 3, Smith watched on TV as the Knicks lost Game 4, 97-90, in OT.
Now, he says he’s fresh and motivated for Game 5 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks will try to close out the series.
“Yeah, I wasn’t on the golf course or nothing,” he said. “I watched the game, seen what happened, I mean I wasn’t pleased with it. My teammates wasn’t either. So we get a chance to make up for it tomorrow.”
Terry scored nine of his 18 points in the overtime session in Game 4 and was a key reason the Celtics won the game.
Asked repeatedly about Terry, Smith said, “Who? I don’t even know who that is.”
When Smith was asked if Terry had hit him in his private parts prior to Smith throwing the elbow, Smith didn’t deny it.
“I was [hit] but it don’t really matter,” Smith said. “Me and my teammates were the only people who suffered from it, so it’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Asked specifically where Terry hit him, Smith said: “It don’t even matter, honestly.”
Smith is averaging 16.3 points in the series and the Knicks will be glad to have him back as they try to close it out in Game 5 at home, where they are 33-10 this season, including the playoffs.
“It’s very important to have him back,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “We missed 18 points the other night. We still put ourselves in position to win a ballgame, but J.R.’s a big piece to the puzzle. I hope he’s learned his lesson. We gotta move on with it and he’s gotta be ready to go tomorrow night.”
Asked if he thought Smith had learned a lesson, Woodson said: “I think so. I’ve been around him all year, and even last season, so he’s grown a lot, in that regard.”
Terry said on Sunday he expected Smith to come out strong in Game 5.
“He’s going to come out and obviously be tough, aggressive, looking to be the spark for them,” Terry said. “But we’re just resilient, and it’s going to be a great game. I can’t wait to go.”
Smith echoed the same thought when asked how motivated he was for Game 5 “Extremely, can’t wait.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.