Carr on Cavs’ Smith: ‘You can’t win that way’

J.R. Smith and the Cavaliers will be back in the NBA Finals, says Nick Wright of FOX Sports.

One of the most-connected, in-tune guys with the Cleveland Cavaliers is Austin Carr.

As color analyst with play-by-play partner on FOX Sports Ohio’s television broadcasts, the former Cavalier standout guard, whose No. 34 hangs from the rafters inside Quicken Loans Arena, has the pulse of the team.

That pulse has been slowed of late by a stretch that has seen Cleveland drop seven of its last 10 games. One of the guys who has been struggling the most — J.R. Smith — plays the same position Carr did, shooting guard.

During an interview on the Baskin and Phelps show on 92.3 The Fan on Friday morning, “Mr. Cavalier” attempted to discern just what’s going on with Smith, who has missed his last 12 shots from the field combined during blowout losses at Minnesota and Toronto.

“I personally feel, as a 2-guard, you have to score the ball,” he said to The Fan’s Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps during a phone conversation from Indianapolis, where the Cavaliers (26-15) will play the Pacers tonight. “That’s your job, other than defend the other 2-guard. You have to put the ball in the basket and that’s the one thing he’s going to (have to do) — get more involved offensively.”

Carr said Smith’s unwillingness to shoot, especially from 3, is having a ripple effect on his teammates. In other words, by being so unselfish in passing the basketball, he’s actually being selfish.

“To me, to stand around and pass the ball all the time, when your job is shooting… I remember (Hall of Fame player and coach) Lenny Wilkens telling me, ‘A.C., you are paid to shoot the ball.’ And he said, ‘When you start passing the ball when people are not expecting it, the rebounders are not in position, the floor balance is not right because that’s that people expect you to do.'”

Carr said Smith’s alteration of his game is most definitely a problem.

“That’s what has happened — he’s changed his role himself (with) so much passing,” he said. “The team doesn’t know what he’s going to do. So when he’s in the shooting position, he passes the ball. When he’s in passing situations, he shoots the ball.

“It’s these kinds of things that he has to address and address quick because Boston and Toronto (the top two teams in the Eastern Conference ) have shown they are not coming back — we’re going to have to go get them.”

Carr said it’s all about confidence for any shooter, including Smith.

“Last season, I realized, because of his daughter’s situation (her premature birth), that he had a tough time,” he said. “But this season, I don’t know what the problem is, but his confidence level has already dropped to a low.

“He even shoots the ball now like he’s not expecting it to go in and it’s just a bad vibe and in some kind of way, we’ve got to find a way to get him out of it because it’s hard to beat teams when you’re only getting 10, nine, seven points in your backcourt.

“That just doesn’t work. You can’t win that way, which we’re finding out.”