Sportress of Blogitude

J.R. Smith challenges LeBron James ahead of Game 4 against Celtics

LeBron James arguably had one of the worst postseason performances in his storied career during Sunday’s 111-108 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. And one of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers teammates is challenging him to rise above his disappointing performance and bring it in Game 4.

J.R. Smith subtly suggested James lacked aggressiveness in Game 3 but also predicted the superstar will enjoy a breakout game in Wednesday’s tilt at Quicken Loans Arena.

“He’s got to be aggressive, get downhill, play like he’s been playing, play confident,” Smith said after practice Monday, via Ohio.com’s Marla Ridenour. “That’s what I always think, when people of his stature or people like him, you’ve got to play confident the whole night and play aggressive.

“It’s the Eastern Conference finals. It’s not enough for him. For what he does, what he brings, it’s not enough. He knows that. We know that. Just expect him to be better in Game 4.”

James himself lambasted his performance in Game 3, saying in part that he just “didn’t have it.” And his alarming statistics from the game — 11 points on a 4-of-13 shooting night to go along with six rebounds, six assists and a troublesome six turnovers — illustrate that quite well.

James’ woeful late-game stat line when the Cavaliers blew a 21-point lead, was particularly alarming.

Despite James’ Game 3 struggles, Smith has all the confidence in the world in his playoff-tested teammate.

“I think when he goes home, he’ll watch the game again,” Smith said. “He’ll take it hard that night. And then the next day he’ll wake up and be fine with it. Well, not be fine with it, but accept it more. That’s all you can ask. You take it hard when you go home, but then the next day, you wake up and it’s a new day.”

Let’s be honest, though, Smith is talking about LeBron James. What else should he expect? Conventional wisdom suggests it’s highly unlikely for James to lay an egg in consecutive playoff games, although it’s arguably not impossible.