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J.R. Smith took the brunt of the heat from the basketball world for what went down at the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, a 124-114 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors.
However, George Hill of the Cleveland Cavaliers said it was he, not Smith, who should be taking the heat.
Now, he wants to do something about it.
“It shouldn’t be a prom dance,” he said of Game 2. “It needs to be a fight.”
“I think all the guys in the locker room want to win and think that we can win. I don’t think any of us are demoralized. I think maybe you guys have us more demoralized than we have ourselves.
“We’re focused on ourselves,” he said. “We’re going to bottle up all that frustration from Game 1 and carry it on to Game 2.”
For those who have been sleeping under a rock since Game 1 on Thursday night, the 32-year-old veteran missed the second of two free throws with 4.7 seconds to play that would have put Cleveland up by a point.
Instead, Hill missed, Smith outfought Kevin Durant of the Warriors for the offensive rebound and then essentially dribbled out the clock on regulation, forgetting the game was still tied.
Hill told the media sleeping after his missed free throw was almost impossible.
“This one hurt bad with a lot of things that went on,” Hill said during a conference call. “The charge getting reversed, [LeBron James’] strip on KD up two, me missing the free throw. I felt like the team did a great job, put ourselves in a [position] to win. Me not hitting the free throw, I feel like cost our team the win.”
Hill said he spent a sleepless night rewatching the free throw, which the NBA admitted in its Last Two Minute Report included a lane violation by the Draymond Green of Golden State on Hill’s miss.
“Just going over it in my head what I think went wrong,” Hill said. “As a player, competitive guy, put in a situation to help my team win a game, and I didn’t come through. So for me, it sucked. It was one of the worst feelings ever.
“But I have great teammates who have been in my ear, even last night and this morning, telling me to forget about it, continue to just focus on the next game and don’t let it linger. I blew that opportunity, but the good thing is it’s a seven-game series and we have another game on Sunday.”
Hill’s numbers are rarely flashy, but his impact on the Cleveland offense cannot be downplayed.
The Cavaliers were fifth of the 30 NBA teams with an offensive rating of 113.0 (points per 100 possessions).
However, when Hill is on the court, Cleveland’s offensive rating soars to 117.6, first in the NBA, three points better than second-place Houston (114.6). When Hill is not in the game, the Cavaliers’ rating drops to 111.6, the sixth-best mark in the league.
“I think our team is the only one who thinks we can win,” Hill said. “I’m sure a lot of you guys already counted us out. A lot of the media counted us out. A lot of the teams counted us out.
“We’re not playing for you guys. We’re playing for the city of Cleveland. We’re playing for each other.”