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We know what happened on the court following Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith’s ridiculous end-of-regulation gaffe in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, but how about in the team huddle?
Thanks to BallisLife.com, we get to see Smith, who, seemingly unaware of the score, inexplicably dribbled the ball out to the top of the key after an offensive rebound in a tie game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, return to the bench and put his head down before receiving some encouragement from teammates.
But what’s far more notable is the reaction of LeBron James.
James carried the team with an incredible 51-point performance. At the 1:35 mark of the video, James, seated a few chairs over from Smith, asks head coach Tyronn Lue if the team had any timeouts remaining. When he learns that they had one left, his expression turns incredulous.
James first puts his head down and then sits arms crossed to the side while Lue addresses the team. Hesitantly, he puts his hand in the with the rest of the team before they head back out onto the court.
What preceded overtime was one of the best performances of James’ career. His team trailed 107-106 as the clock wound down in the final seconds of regulation. With the Warriors focused on James, he fired a bullet pass to point guard George Hill, who would have had a wide open layup had he not been fouled.
The foul sent Hill to the free-throw line with 4.7 seconds remaining. He sank the first to tie the game at 107, but missed the second, setting up Smith’s inexplicable mistake.
Smith corralled the offensive rebound over Kevin Durant. James was wide open at the top of the key, but Smith dribbled the ball out. By the time he realized the situation, it was too late.
But beyond Smith’s lapse in judgment and, of course, Hill’s missed free throw, James clearly was perplexed in the huddle why Lue would not call a timeout to give the team a chance to win in regulation.
A few days later, James called Game 1 one of the toughest losses of his career.
James has put this undermanned team on his back throughout the entire season, and especially in these playoffs. Game 1 was a stark example of what he is up against in this Finals, both on his own bench and the Warriors.
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