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May 17, 2018

J.R. Smith

Cleveland, Ohio: Practice Day

Q. Two games into this series, did you say coming into Game 1 that [Jayson] Tatum was the guy that you guys wanted to try to take away defensively?
J.R. SMITH: Yeah, for sure. We decided to blitz him like we did DeMar [DeRozan] and [Victor] Oladipo, try to get the ball out of his hands, try to make plays for other people. Unfortunately for us, [Jaylen] Brown has really been playing well, and obviously Al [Horford], so it hasn't really worked for us. Hopefully our adjustment will work.

Q. Has Brown been good enough based on that scheme that you have to change it up?
J.R. SMITH: Yeah, we've got to change something. He's been playing extremely well. I mean, I can't just say him. I mean, all the them have really been playing well. Terry [Rozier] is doing his job, Al has been playing good, [Marcus] Morris plays good. They're a young team. They play hard, so you've got to expect good things are going to go their way.

Q. We talked so much last series about how well you guys played in the backcourt, you, George [Hill], Kyle [Korver]. What can you guys do as a unit or however you consider yourselves to even things up there?
J.R. SMITH: Just make shots. That's all that we can do. I mean, obviously we can do more on the defensive side, but our main focus right now is to make shots when we get them. When we don't have them, try to make the next best play. Right now Bron and Kevin are working overly hard, trying to carry us, and we've just got to step up and do our job.

Q. How is what you are getting in this particular series against Boston different or of different quality than what you got against Toronto?
J.R. SMITH: Yeah, they're much different. I think the shots are different, and obviously their wings are younger, more athletic, so that plays a factor, too. We've just got to figure out -- find our spots. We've got to keep running when we get stops, and we've just got to keep playing fast.

Q. How much does the energy you expend on the defensive end of the floor affect you on the other end offensively? Does that take a little wind from you?
J.R. SMITH: For me, no. I mean, I'm pretty much doing the same thing every time. I've been doing the last couple years, defend, space the floor, and when the ball comes to you, either shoot it or get off of it. I'm accustomed to playing that way for some time now. I don't think it determines like how the outcome comes offensively at all.

Q. Are you concerned there might be a penalty from the league when they review the play?
J.R. SMITH: No, not really. Fortunately for me, I've been in that situation a few times, worried about a phone call from them. That's kind of the last thing on my mind at this point.

Q. Ty was talking about how when they started to make a run in the fourth quarter, you guys wilted a little bit. What can you guys do to make sure that doesn't happen to you going forward?
J.R. SMITH: Well, for one, we can't settle. We've been settling for a lot of jump shots, a lot of contested jump shots like that. Obviously we know we're a pretty good three-point shooting team, but sometimes you've got to put the ball on the floor and attack the paint. Like I said, when that fourth quarter came, they started making their run, we just started pressing and shooting a lot of jump shots, turning the ball over, and it's a snowball effect. You can't turn the ball over against this team and expect to get out and run and run with them. We've just got to do a better job taking care of the ball, and at the same time getting to the basket.

Q. What can you guys do defensively to force more turnovers, because I think they had like five in that last game.
J.R. SMITH: Yeah, we've got to play more physical. We've got to play more physical from the start. A lot of times when they get the ball, they're into their offense at 19, 18 on the shot clock, and we're into ours at like 12 or 13, so we've got to pressure the ball, try to keep them out of the paint as best we can, and at the end of the day, keep contesting. We've had a few mishaps on the defensive end because of communication, and they were getting wide-open shots. We've got to make that second effort regardless if they're on the other side or not. We've got to just run at them and try and attack.

Q. Are you guys okay with how the ball is moving offensively? Is it moving around, or do you guys need to ramp that up, as well?
J.R. SMITH: Yeah, we have to ramp it up. We're playing too slow. We're playing -- we're making Bron play hero ball, which is tough to do, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals. We've got to help. And with that said, we have to give him the opportunity for us to make him feel confident to give us the ball so we can make the right plays. We've got to help him and he's got to help us.

Q. You've been down 2-0 before in a series. Does this feel any different?
J.R. SMITH: Honestly, not really. I was talking to the guys -- some of the guys in the training room, and I was telling people it's already the Eastern Conference Finals. It's just being in this situation repetitively for the last couple years, it's just -- I don't want to say you get numb to it because you don't want to take it for granted because obviously guys don't have this opportunity too many times, but this season alone has just been an extremely weird year, and we've just got to figure it out.

Q. Having to win four out of five, it seems daunting. How do you compartmentalize that?
J.R. SMITH: Yeah, we've got to take it quarter by quarter. Our third quarters are killing us, so we can't really jump ahead to winning four out of five. We control it quarter by quarter, we'll be fine, but until then, we're going to struggle.

Q. Ty has been saying for months that you guys need to get tougher and more physical. Is there something conscious about that, or is that just part of the players' nature, that maybe not everyone has that?
J.R. SMITH: I think a little bit of both. I'm glad I don't have that problem. I guess it's who you are, at the end of the day, who you are, how you grew up, how you grew up playing the game. I grew up playing physical. I've always played against people older than me since I was a kid, so I'm used to a physical game. I can't make somebody else play that way. I've just got to try to do the best I can and hopefully they follow suit.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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