J.R. Smith’s 2016-2017 season has not lived up to expectations so far. Yes, the Cleveland Cavaliers are off to a blistering 13-2 start, and they are scoring more points per game than any team except the Golden State Warriors; but it’s largely been without significant contributions from Smith.
Smith is currently mired in a 1-for-22 shooting slump, including dropping a big ol’ doughnut on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers when he went 0-for-11. Smith is shooting just 33 percent from beyond the arc, the worst percentage since his rookie year.
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Smith is a streak shooter, so cold spells are both expected and accepted—in exchange for nights when the ball appears to be on fire when it leaves his hand. But 1-for-22 is chillier than usual. Smith isn’t too worried about it, though. The Cavs are still winning, and he’s got a secret ritual in his arsenal that has helped him out of shooting slumps in the past.
“One of my good friends, him and my dad are really tight. He’s an old, old, old Italian guy,” Smith told the Akron Beacon Journal. “He told me to walk out of my front door backwards. When I get home, I’ll probably do it again.”
Smith says he practiced this ritual before Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the first game of the Cavs’ astonishing comeback from a 3-1 deficit, so perhaps there is some magic to it. Or maybe Smith should put more arc on his shot, a tangible fix that he told us about in the middle of last season. Either way, the image of Smith walking out of his house backwards before driving to the arena is pretty hilarious. Whatever works.