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NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS v HAWKS


May 20, 2015


LeBron James

J.R. Smith


ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Game One

Cleveland Cavaliers - 97
Atlanta Hawks - 89


Q.  J.R., you were obviously in the zone tonight.  How much fun is it to not only be an assist that fits your skill set but also shoot?
J.R. SMITH:  It's extremely fun.  It's easy to play.  I get a lot of open shots.  It's easy to get into a rhythm early.  Once I start shooting, whether I make or miss, everybody tells me to start shooting.  So it's a great situation.

Q.  You and DeMarre seemed to be jawing a bit in the first half, but after he went down, you seemed to share a moment.  Can you share what you said to him?
LeBRON JAMES:  At the end of the day, we're all a brotherhood.  NBA is a brotherhood, and you never want anyone to get injured, even in combat.  So that's what went through my mind.  Obviously, I love competing versus anybody who loves to compete as well.  He's one of those guys that was competing throughout the night, throughout the postseason.  I'm not sure the severity of the injury right now.  But I hope he has a recovery, whatever it is.  You just don't want nobody to get hurt like that.

Q.  LeBron, could you tell us the difference or which, I guess, the group of shooters that you played with in Miami and compare those to this group you have now because both can explode.
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I've been fortunate enough to play with some shooters to help spread the floor for myself and what I do best, and that's being in attack mode.¬† To be able to play with one of the all‑time greats in Ray Allen, and also play with Mike Miller and Shane Battier and James Jones still, and then you get a guy like J.R. Smith, who's able just to shoot the ball and have the extreme confidence that every time they let it go, that it's going in.¬† I've been blessed to play with guys like that.
When you have guys like that, you have to utilize them while they're on the floor.

Q.  LeBron, can you talk about the play in the last 37 seconds, when you went for a dunk.
LeBRON JAMES: ¬†Coach drew up a play, and we just try to run it to perfection.¬† He drew up a play, and Double‑T came up and set a screen and roll.¬† I was able to get to the middle of the floor.¬† The ability, the way we were shooting the three ball tonight, kind of kept those last two defenders at bay, and I was able just to turn the lane and make a big play for our team at that time.

Q.  I have one for both of you guys:  J.R., before you came to Cleveland, you had a certain reputation in the league.  People had a certain idea of who you were.  How important was it for you to change that reputation, and what steps do you think you made as soon as Cleveland called you, saying they were interested in trading for you?
J.R. SMITH:  It was extremely important because more than anything, for my parents.  My parents, they know what type of person they raised, and they know what type of person they inspired me to be.  So it wasn't really for myself, it was more for them, if not for anybody.

Q.  LeBron, when the organization first approached you and said, we can make a move to get J.R. Smith but we have concerns, what was your idea about the importance and the value of getting a player like this in your franchise?
LeBRON JAMES:  Get him here, and I'll take care of it.

Q.  You said you planned to take care of it?
LeBRON JAMES:  Yeah, I got him.  You get him here, I got him.  Yeah, I got him (laughter).

Q.¬† LeBron, what worked for you for the team defensively against the Hawks against their three‑point shooting?¬† And for J.R., how important was it for you to keep things rolling after you got hot early?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† We have a great coaching staff, first of all, that gives us a game plan.¬† We kind of, throughout these six days, we've kind of been balancing ways we can try to‑‑ not stop what they do, but just try to limit some of their touches, limit some of Kyle Korver's touches and some of their other three‑point shooters.
We're the number one defensive team in the playoffs, and it has a lot to do with when we go out, as a coaching staff, they give us the game plan.  And for us as players, we go out and execute it.  For us to win ultimately, we have to defend.
Tonight we shot 44 percent from the field, but we defended.  We gave ourselves a chance.  When you defend at a high level, you give yourself a chance to win every night.
J.R. SMITH:  I just try to just roll with the punches.  I mean, once the team pretty much starts closing out, just try to get in attack mode, and at the same time, try to find my teammates.  It's kind of hard, hitting the shots I was hitting, to try and pass the ball, but you've got to figure out a way.

Q.  LeBron, you touched on it a little bit, but two quick questions:  What was it that you saw in J.R. that made you very in favor of bringing him to Cleveland?  Number two, what type of satisfaction do both of you get after having a game like this against the Hawks?
LeBRON JAMES:  Me and J.R.'s history go back long before he came into the NBA.  Before he came into the NBA, he came to my hometown, and we worked out multiple days, multiple times.  For me, as a leader of a team, you always just want to try to give someone an opportunity.  With the talent this guy presents, I knew the man he was, and I didn't really care about what everybody else thought about him.
Obviously, our front office, they have the last say so, and for me, they have the last say so, but when they made it and said they were going to do it, I was definitely all for it.  I felt like, for me, we were getting a great piece, not only on the floor, but off the floor, as well, because I'd known him before he even got to this point.
To answer your second question, to be able just to make plays to help your team win is all that matters for me.¬† We have a guy like this that was shooting the ball extremely well, who broke the game open, but also the contributions from Delly off the bench again, and the two bigs, both of them having double‑doubles.¬† That was big time.

Q.  Two questions:  One, could you take us through what happened in the third quarter, I think when you stepped on the camera guy.  And then, two, after some really good quarters offensively, second and third quarter, you guys seemed to get out of rhythm a little bit in the fourth.  What happened there until you finished with that dunk?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Like you said, in the third quarter, I went to contest DeMarre Carroll's three‑point attempt, and the cameraman, I guess his foot was out further than it should be, but I stepped on his foot and turned my ankle.
I'm happy that it didn't cost me the rest of the game.  I was able to go out there and make a few plays.
I think, to answer your second question, we can't worry about how many points we're up or how many points we're down; we have to continue to play our game.¬† It starts with me.¬† I take all the responsibility for it.¬† In fourth quarter, I played way too much isolation basketball, one‑on‑one basketball, a lot of defenses set, and I was letting the clock run down way too much.¬† I just had to take the shot or I was giving it to my guys late in the shot clock, and they couldn't do nothing with it besides shoot it or turn the ball over.
So I will do a better job.  I'll probably watch the game over again tonight, as I try to get my body ready for Game 2.  So it starts with me.

Q.  LeBron, what Kyrie's going through right now, can you say anything to him?  Is this something that he has to become resigned to the fact that maybe the rest of the playoffs he'll be laboring through these injuries?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† It's tough, and I know it sucks for him.¬† This is the moment he's been waiting for.¬† This is the biggest stage.¬† Physically, he's not capable of doing what we all know he's capable of doing, and it's starting to, I guess‑‑ hopefully, it doesn't continue‑‑ or hopefully it doesn't get into his mind.¬† For me, that's my role at that point, to let him know when he's on the floor, no matter what he's going through, we need him to be aggressive, as aggressive as he can be with the injury, and not worry about things that he cannot control; only worry about the things that he can control.
Like I said, that will be my job to help him understand, no matter what he's going through physically, never let it creep into his mind where it affect him mentally.

Q.  LeBron, you mentioned the defense in the postseason for you guys, giving up 51 to Atlanta in the first half and then 38 the rest of the way.  What changed in the second half for you?
LeBRON JAMES:  We started to get kind of a rhythm of what they wanted to do, but we also just put pressure not only at the point of attack, but when the ball was moved from side to side.
Like I said, our coaching staff gives us a game plan, and it's up to us to execute it.  They're going to make shots.  They're one of the, if not the best with Golden State, best offenses we have in our league.  We just try to make it tough on them.

Q.  LeBron, you mentioned the iso ball.  Do you know, in the midst of it, in the middle of the game, can you feel it slowing down?  Can you feel you're doing it too much?  Or is it only after the game when you can kind of decompress a little bit and look at the numbers?
LeBRON JAMES:  I kind of sense it.  I sense it during the game a little bit, and it's tough sometimes with our main ball handler not being on the floor, and that's in Kyrie.  That's something that I'm not happy with, something I'm not really comfortable with doing.  I can do it, but I don't like to play that much isolation basketball late in the game.  I'd much rather get the ball moving from side to side and get a good look after that.
So like I said, I'll be more conscious about that in Game 2, if that opportunity presents itself, where at least I can get the ball moving to start and then maybe at the back side, or like the third option I can get it back at the end.  At least we got the defense moving instead of them just watching me pound the ball for 24 seconds.  That's not good basketball.

Q.  J.R., for you to be on this platform right here on the major stage, Eastern Conference Finals, how gratifying is this for you, a person who's been through all that you've been in throughout your career, and to be at this stage and people talking about you in a positive light and talk about what you're doing on the basketball court.
J.R. SMITH:  Like I said, it's great.  It's a great situation for me.  It's more for my mom.  I mean, she's probably my biggest fan.  When all those negative things are being said and stuff like that, me personally, I really don't care, but for her, to see her hurting, to see her go through those situations, to feel the way she feels, it's a terrible feeling for me because I know I'm putting her in those situations.
So if anything, it's just for her.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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