To celebrate the Lakers making the NBA Finals, J.R. Smith decided to post a picture of himself holding the Western Conference Finals trophy on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
One fan commented that Smith “didn’t even play”.
To which Smith responded “nope but I still get a ring”.
Which is, of course, true.
Smith could remain on the bench the entire finals and would still collect a ring if the Lakers win the NBA Finals.
The same way Avery Bradley will get a ring even though he did not even travel to the bubble.
This will be Smith’s fifth appearance in the finals, each appearance while teammates with LeBron James.
He was on the Cavaliers during their entire four year run of finals appearance with James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving.
Smith was always a player who received heavy minutes on those Cavalier teams.
While this is not the case with the Lakers, he still has played a role with this team.
The games in the bubble have been without fans due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Because of this, the energy during the games can be low which can impact the players.
It does not seem the Lakers have been lacking energy during these playoffs, and that partially be credited to J.R. Smith.
Wait for JR Smith’s Superman celebration 😆
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 25, 2020
Any time the Lakers go on a run or have a game-changing play, you would always find J.R. Smith cheering loudly off the bench
The energy from a teams bench can be greatly beneficial during the absence of a playoff atmosphere.
Smith’s Role in the Finals?
Smith signed with the Lakers in July just before the restart of the season.
Due to lack of practice and games played with the team, his minutes were limited during the 8 seeding games and first-round playoff matchup against the Blazers.
With the return of a previously injured Rajon Rondo, those minutes were all but taken away against the Houston Rockets and the Nuggets.
While Smith has not seen much playing time while in the bubble, it remains to be seen what his role will be in the Finals.
As mentioned previously, Smith played heavy minutes in the Finals with the Cavaliers.
This experience can be beneficial to teams in high-pressure games.
The Heat are also a far different team from who the Lakers played in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Portland Trail Blazers, Rockets, and Nuggets were all average to below-average defensive teams with offenses spearheaded by two stars.
The Heat, while average on defense by the numbers, are swarming on defense in the playoffs.
They are very switchable on defense and deploy two All-Defensive Team players in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Between Butler, Jae Crowder, and Andre Iguodala, they have three defenders who can match up against LeBron.
On offense, they do not rely on one or two players to score points.
Six Heat players average double figures, and four average greater than 16 PPG.
The ball constantly moves in the half-court and players constantly cut and set picks.
If the Lakers feel they need to make adjustments to their lineup to counteract the Heat speed, Smith could see minutes.
The other aspect of Smith’s game that could help him see the court is his scoring explosiveness.
The former 6th Man of the Year Award winner has been known as an offensive spark plug his entire career.
Smith can get hot quickly and provide instant offense off the bench if the Lakers are sluggish one game.
Smith’s February Prediction
Smith is a great basketball player, but he may have a career after basketball in fortune-telling.
Back in February Smith answered some fan questions on Instagram.
One fan asked Smith who he thought would play in the NBA Finals.
He correctly predicted the Miami Heat versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
J.R. Smith predicted a Lakers vs. Heat Finals back in February. 👀🍿 pic.twitter.com/JvJ0oENsw2
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) September 28, 2020
J.R. Smith must have known something the rest of us didn’t.