KEEPING IT RAHEEL

Raheel Ramzanali: What really happened on the J.R. Smith play

What really happened to J.R. Smith? Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

We’re almost a week removed from one of the greatest misplays in NBA Finals history and I still have no closure from J.R. Smith’s gaffe. We’ve seen the memes, the uncut footage, and various explanations, but I still don’t believe any of it. In an attempt to find the truth, I want to present four explanations as to why J.R. Smith forgot the score and forgot what was happening during Game 1 of the NBA Finals:

  1. Maybe J.R. Smith was so caught off-guard with George Hill missing the go-ahead free throw that he froze and couldn’t understand how an 81% playoff free throw shooter could miss such an easy free throw in a game that nobody gave them a chance in. I think J.R. truly didn’t believe it was possible and when the moment happened he didn’t want to believe it so he ran towards the bench with the ball thinking Hill hit it and wanted him to have the game ball.

  2. Maybe J.R. was so caught off-guard with the in-game tweet From Kanye West about his album debut listening party that he forgot the score. Look, I know Kanye’s not the same, but a lot of people still look forward to his new music and J.R. like many were hyped when they saw Kanye would be streaming his album for the masses during Game 1 one of the finals. Unfortunately, Kanye didn’t stream it until after the game so maybe J.R., like me, was frustrated from waiting and lost track of the score.

  3. 14 million possible futures and THIS was the one that worked out? Like many, I’m still struggling to comprehend the end of Infinity War. In fact, sometimes I start thinking about it and forget that I’m driving and find myself in a panic braking really hard. I know financially they can’t kill off all of these characters, but I need to know how THIS was the one way to end Thanos. I know comic book movies bring out the nerd in all of us and I don’t think J.R. is a comic book nerd, but the movie did also bring in a trillion dollars or something so maybe he was just thinking about the end of the Avengers during a pivotal time in the game.

  4. Maybe J.R. is so thankful for LeBron’s guidance in his career that he decided to help open the door for “LeBron has no help in Cleveland and should leave at the end of the year” takes. By being the ultimate friend and teammate, J.R. gave evidence to the NBA world as to why LeBron should leave and try to win a title with another team. If the Cavs win that game and eventually lose the series in 5 or 6, the talk would be about how the Cavs are one piece away from beating the Warriors. Now that they’re facing a sweep, nobody will fault LeBron for leaving the Cavs and all of that started with one, J.R. Smith.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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