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J.R. Smith is the Cavaliers X-Factor

The Cleveland Cavaliers X-Factor in the 2016 NBA Finals could be an unsung hero who isn't part of the big three - J.R. Smith.

The 2016 NBA Finals is set to begin tonight as a heated rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, two teams who faced off just twice during the regular season.

To be fair, it’s pretty unfair to compare this year’s finals to last year’s, because these two teams are much different from last year. Golden State is in the midst of an historic season that will cement them into history. Cleveland has no excuse to plea, with a fully healthy unit that has stomped through the playoffs with dominance.

J.R. Smith is the Cavaliers X-Factor

We know what to expect from each of these teams; a bonanza of threes from The Splash Brothers, Draymond Green’s emotional explosions to spark fire into the game at the best moments, and maybe a few Andrew Bogut lobs and Marreese Speights threes.

From Cleveland, we know the big three is going to get theirs, and the team will likely take what Golden State gives them; against Detroit, they lit it up from outside–when Atlanta, in the following round, emphasized perimeter defense, Cleveland obliterated them in the paint. All the intensity will be spearheaded by none other than LeBron James.

It’s safe to say anyone on Golden State is likely to do some damage when Steve Kerr is so liberal with his rotations. For Cleveland and first year head coach Tyronn Lue, not so much. The big three of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and James will almost always make an impact, but the consistency of the supporting cast is in question going into this final series.

Because of that variable, the potential unsung hero of the finals is particularly unexpected, by both teams: J.R. Smith.

When J.R. Smith is hot, he’s smoldering. 

Sitting at 17th all time on the NBA’s 3-pointers list, he has a chance to climb to number 15 in this series, barring it goes 6 to 7 games. His consistency alone will be enough to push the series that far.

Although he only averages 12 points per game in this year’s playoffs, he’s contributed to two of the Cavs’ record breaking performances beyond the arc in a big way. Without his immense volume of shots, some of those Cavs’ blowouts aren’t quite blowouts.


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