OAKLAND — Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith doesn’t even want to contemplate the horror of life without the chance to play in a fourth straight NBA Finals against the Warriors.
“I could be sitting in the Bahamas right about now, but I’m glad where we’re at,” he said, happy to postpone any offseason vacation plans. “Every time you play in the Finals it’s special.”
Smith, among the few Cavs who have been a part of all four NBA Finals matchups with the Warriors, said he wasn’t the least bit surprised when Golden State rallied from a 3-2 deficit against the Houston Rockets, winning Game 7 on the road to capture the Western Conference finals.
“Anybody who tells you they’re surprised by that, they’re lying,” Smith said. “If anything, I was surprised it got to that point with them.
“They play the right way. They make the extra pass to find the open man, they play extremely great team defense, they’re well-coached and they’ve got four legit people who will probably be in the Hall of Fame one day.
“There was never a doubt in my mind. I’m glad. I wanted to see them another time. Four times.”
The Cavaliers are, once again, huge underdogs in the series. A survey of ESPN’s 23 NBA experts had every one of them picking the Warriors.
Smith doesn’t argue the point. He hopes it provides the Cavaliers some edge that the Warriors haven’t faced them since a February trade that brought four news players to Cleveland.
Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and George Hill were playing for other teams the last time these teams met.
“If that’s our advantage, I’ll take it. They haven’t seen us,” Smith said. “But obviously, they’re still going to come out and play the way they play.
“The key is going to be slowing them down, contesting as many shots as we can and rebounding. More than anything, it’s going to come down to defense and our ball movement.”
Then, after pausing, Smith added, “We know it’s not going to be easy.”
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