In perplexing fashion, Smith wasted the final seconds of regulation in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. The score was tied after Hill missed his second free throw. And Smith, apparently not realizing the Cleveland Cavaliers needed more points to win, took the ball out and with inexplicable intentions. The game went to overtime, where the Golden State Warriors won in resounding fashion.
The chaos surrounding Smith’s idiotic moment — which LeBron James fueled by making it into an internet-friendly meme — drowned out the blunder that took place just before Smith’s rebound.
Hill should have made that second foul shot.
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He nailed the first one to tie the game. Then the weight of the game fell on Hill’s shoulders. It was apparent.
Stepping up for his second shot, Hill looked like he was in bad shape. Honestly, he looked like he was in pain.
And then he missed it badly, never having a chance as it barely caught the front of the rim before dropping to Smith.
We’re not talking about Tristan Thompson, who shot 54 percent from the line in the regular season. We’re talking about Hill — he hit 80.5 percent off his free throws in the regular season and has hit 79.6 percent in the postseason.
Yes, he was in an unfriendly environment in Golden State. The shot came with a great deal of pressure. But it’s one he’s got to make.
There’s no guaranteeing the Cavaliers would have won the game, because the Warriors had a timeout and 4.7 seconds left to score. But you can bet the Cavaliers wouldn’t have had a colossal meltdown like they did in the seconds following the missed free throw. Once Hill missed and Smith botched the ensuing play, the Cavaliers were left with zero momentum heading into overtime.
What Smith did was overwhelmingly bad. But Hill should have just hit that shot. That should have been a given. He’s lucky no one is talking about it.
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