However, Smith has resorted back to his old form lately. His struggles were a big part of why the Knicks lost the first game in their series against the Indiana Pacers, and he did not contribute positively in the Knicks' Game 2 win. Although the Knicks simply tied the series at one game a piece on Tuesday night, Smith did not hesitate to celebrate his team's success. This photo was taken of Smith - who is sitting behind singer Rihanna - after Game 2:
Have Smith's partying habits returned and thwarted his on-court success? I have no idea - I'm not going to assume that this is a regular thing for him. He has three days off before he has to play again, so if he wants to go out and have a good time after a big win, I have no problem with that. But I will say this: JR has looked a hell of a lot like the old, out-of-control, loose cannon that we thought had vanished ever since he elbowed Jason Terry (a very "old JR" move) in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, which resulted in his ejection and suspension. Now we see him at a nightclub with a megastar celebrity during the playoffs. As a Knicks fan, I'm a little concerned, simply because Smith's massive struggles are currently bookended by a suspension and a nightclub appearance with Rihanna.
Due to his lack of on-court production over the past few games, the talented scorer who starts every game on the bench may be sitting there for longer than usual in the near future, according to head coach Mike Woodson. "If I feel he's not giving me anything, I could always turn to other guys on that bench," Woodson said of Smith during a radio interview on Wednesday. "If I feel that he's struggling, and I feel the need (that) I've got to pull him, then I will do that as the head coach, and then other guys have got to come in and step up and play." Woodson did go on to praise Smith's defense, which could cut him a little more slack as far as his offensive woes.
Since Smith was ejected in Game 3 against the Celtics, he has shot 26.3% from the field. He has averaged only 1.5 assists to 2.0 turnovers per game, and is averaging 13.0 points per game despite firing up 14.3 shot attempts. Smith's struggles have put even more pressure on scoring champion Carmelo Anthony to be the team's offensive centerpiece, and he is dealing with a gimpy shoulder.
I think we'll still see Smith come off the bench early in Game 3 on Saturday, but if he continues to miss shots and make bad decisions, he may come up several minutes short of the 31.9 minutes per game he has averaged so far in the playoffs. More minutes for Iman Shumpert (13.4 points, 51% shooting, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals since Smith's ejection) is a distinct possibility.