2018 Playoffs | Eastern Conference Finals: Celtics (2) vs. Cavaliers (4)

George Hill, J.R. Smith want to get back on track in Eastern Conference finals

From NBA media reports

Putting it lightly, the Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled to find success against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Everything from the Cavs 0-2 series deficit to the margin of defeat in Games 1 (25 points) and 2 (13 points) and more show Cleveland hasn’t been able to make Boston sweat in the series yet.

A closer look at the series stats shows that the Cavs’ issues may be stemming from the backcourt — in particular how Cleveland starters J.R. Smith and George Hill are faring compared to Boston’s Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown. The Rozier-Brown combo has outscored the Smith-Hill pairing 72-12 so far and, if you add in backup guards — the Celtics’ Marcus Smart and the Cavs’ Kyle Korver — the difference swells to 92-28.

Marla Ridnour of the Akron Beacon Journal spoke with Hill and Smith yesterday about their struggles in the series and what they plan to do to remedy it as Game 3 looms on Saturday (8:30 ET, ESPN). Here’s more from Ridnour:

Smith went scoreless in the Cavs’ 13-point loss at TD Garden in Game 2, the third time this postseason he’s been shut out. He’s 2-for-16 from the field, including 0-for-7 from 3-point range, in two games.

Hill has totaled eight points and has more blocked shots (2) than assists (1) against the Celtics. In a 25-point loss in Game 1, he scored five points without an assist in 28 minutes.

Asked how hard it was to take the no-assist game, Hill said, “I don’t know. I don’t really play by, ‘Am I getting this many assists?’ or ‘Am I getting this many rebounds or this many points?’ I think you guys worry more about that than I do. I just try to play the game, and right now I’m not playing the game the right way. I’ve got to continue to watch film, work on my craft and come out with a whole different mindset Game 3.”

“I don’t know, I’m trying to figure it out myself,” Hill said Thursday after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I think a little bit of just trying to be more involved offensively, trying to be more involved defensively, not waiting until a play is possibly called and things like that to go do it.”

Asked how the Cavs backcourt can get it together, Smith said, “Make shots. That’s the only thing we can do. I mean, obviously we can do more on the defensive side, but our main focus is to make shots right now when we get it. If we don’t have them, try to make the next best play. Right now Bron and Kev are working overly hard, trying to carry us. We just gotta step up and do our job.”

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