OAKLAND, Calif. -- J.R. Smith's means of transportation into practice Saturday were his own two feet and he uttered words that could be good news for the Cavaliers or the Warriors. "I can't play no worse," Smith said.
The former Knick guard was referring to his 2-for-12 performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals that included 0-for-8 shooting from three. Smith's mentality is he's going to keep shooting when the series, which is tied 2-2, resumes Sunday night.
Depending on which Smith shows up, it could work to the Cavaliers' advantage or the Warriors.
Smith is a very talented player, but he's streaky, makes some bad decisions on both ends of the floor, and has been known to shoot his teams into as well as out of games.
The Cavaliers are missing All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love so they're looking to Smith to help LeBron James in this series. But Smith, in his first NBA Finals, has admitted that he's thinking too much, and might be pressing too much too.
Smith committed three dumb fouls that nearly cost the Cavaliers Game 2, but they won in overtime. On offense, he's getting mostly wide-open looks. but Smith is just 14-for-47 (29.8 percent) in the series, including 7-for-28 from three (25 percent).
He had stretches like that with the Knicks, also. In his last five playoff games in 2013, Smith misfired on 26 of 33 threes.
Smith, who created some waves by riding to the locker room before Game 4 on a hands-free Segway, called his play that night "Horse [crap]." He said he tried not to let that game linger too long in his mind. "I got rid of it right away," Smith said. "My teammates wouldn't let me hold on to it. They keep telling me it's only one game, which it really is. I just have to be ready for the next game."
James has been in Smith's corner since the Cavaliers acquired him and Iman Shumpert from the Knicks. James seems concerned about Smith's confidence and continues to encourage the mercurial shooter.
"I don't care how many shots he missed, I don't want his head to be down like it was in Game 4," James said. "You can never allow someone either from the media or from the fans, from the opposition, from your family to ever see that you're down about what you're doing. It doesn't matter. He has to stay confident.
"He can miss a hundred shots. If they're great looks, they're drive and kicks, you shoot them with confidence. If he's feeling confident about his ability, then I'm confident about it. But as a competitor, once you lose confidence in yourself, then it's really not much coming back from that. So if he's confident in himself, he'll be fine."
The Cavaliers will need more than Smith if Golden State controls the pace the way it did in Game 4. James, who is playing 45 minutes per game, admitted to being "gassed" and coach David Blatt wouldn't rule out going deeper in his rotation. "If that's necessary, that's what we'll do," Blatt said.
Smith said he feels fine physically. His mental state seemed to even concern former Cavaliers All-Star Austin Carr, now a broadcaster for the team.
When Smith was walking across the practice court, Carr stopped him to offer some words of support. "He told me, 'Don't be discouraged, shoot the ball, play like you've been playing, it's just one game'" Smith said. "When you go on the floor just be the player I am. It was very motivating coming from a person like that."
Smith was mostly serious with the media but he chuckled when he was asked about the stir he created for riding the hands-free transporter.
"For whatever reason I have star power for social media," he said. "Whatever I do tends to be a big deal."
Whatever Smith does on the court, good and bad, tends to be a big deal, too.