So apparently, there is a limit, after all, to the amount of shots J.R. Smith can miss for Mike Woodson to sit him down on the bench as the New York Knicks coach came out today and hinted at the possibility of Smith losing time on the floor.
Woodson asserted on Wednesday, “I’ll gauge J.R. as we go along and if I feel he’s not giving me anything, I could always turn to other guys on the bench.” Woody’s words are in stark contrast to how he has handled Smith since becoming the Knicks head coach as Woodson has previously given him unlimited freedom to shoot without any repercussions for miserable performances.
Since his one game suspension for elbowing Boston Celtics guard Jason Terry in Game 3 of their first round series, J.R. has shot an abysmal 26% from the field. There’s no question that New York will need better production from their top man off the bench, and this threat of a minutes reduction may be just the thing to take J.R. out of his slump
From a coaching standpoint, the NBA Playoffs are all about adjustments. In Game 2 of their series against the Indiana Pacers, Woodson orchestrated for more mid range looks off of ball movement as opposed to isolation-related hero ball that led Carmelo Anthony straight into the defensive juggernaut Roy Hibbert in Game 1. This shift in offensive philosophy led to Anthony shooting 50% from the field as well as the Knicks having their first 100-point playoff game since 1999, coincidentally also against the Pacers.
Woodson’s ability to keep an open mind and adapt, as opposed to being stubborn and staying strong with what got him here, should keep Knicks fans at ease for finally having the right the guy for their team. His willingness to openly challenge Smith with a potential minutes reduction should provide the fuel for the fire that J.R. needs to regain top form.
With Smith playing at his best, he gives the Knicks another dimension on offense that makes them that much more dangerous and helps to alleviate some of the pressure off of Carmelo. J.R. typically does not back down from challenges, and it is the hope of Knickerbocker fans everywhere that he responds strongly on Saturday with a game worthy of the honor that was bestowed upon him as the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.