J.R. Smith has been one of the only Knicks not to play particularly well this series. He won’t get a chance to change that trend in Game 4. The NBA announced this evening that Smith would be suspended for Game 4 against the Celtics for throwing an elbow at Jason Terry’s head in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
Smith was assessed a flagrant 2 foul on the play and was ejected from the contest. Over the first three games of the series, Smith has been the second-leading scorer on the Knicks, averaging 16.7 points per game.
CH’s Take: So it’s fair to ask the question…how much SHOULD this suspension help the Celtics? The answer is a lot on the surface. Avery Bradley was forced with the duty of shadowing Smith for the majority of the first three games, while now he can solely focus on containing the likes of Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni on the perimeter, to keep them from getting into the lane and creating havoc. This is a good thing.
Additionally, the Knicks lose the focal point of their second-team offense, and a solid, physical defender on the defensive end as well. More minutes for the likes of Steve Novak or Chris Copeland may be in order for Game 4, as the Knicks will need to making up for Smith’s scoring. Boston may see even more of Prigioni and Kidd, who both caused all kinds of issues on both ends of the floor in Game 3.
Either way, taking Game 4 at home just got a little bit easier for the Celtics, provided they find a way to put the ball in the basket. These days, that’s far easier said than done.
Here is a sampling of commentary on the elbow after Game 3.
Mike Woodson: “He’ll learn from it. I don’t think he was trying to hurt he kid. I thought he was trying to clear space. They (officials) saw it differently and he had to exit the game. That’s something he will learn from and I’m going to stay in his ear and make sure he learns from it.”
J.R. Smith: “I was trying to draw the foul. He reached in one time, I thought he was gonna reach in a second time and I was gonna try to get a quick shot off, but they made a call that the refs saw, and theres not really much I can do about it. Re. Was the call warranted? I’m don’t really know, im not really the judge of that. Im gonna let them do what they do. I really try to stay away from getting into it with the officials, so I gotta keep my head. That was a bad basketball play on my behalf, just cause I got kicked out of the game and my team needed me. Just gotta get ready to play Sunday.”
Doc Rivers: “I don’t know. I wish I was playing. I didn’t like that. You’re up. So. I’m going to stop; I’ve already given up money.”