CLEVELAND—Milestones demand mementos.
For J.R. Smith, that meant taking a selfie for Instagram while sharing the podium with teammates LeBron James and Tristan Thompson after the Cavaliers swept the Hawks to advance to the NBA Finals on Tuesday.
Cleveland was in a jubilant mood after blowing out Atlanta 118–88 in Game 4, and Smith took his celebration to social media. While Thompson was busy answering a question, Smith whipped out his cell phone and encouraged his teammates to smile for the photo. The trio broke from the news conference to smile and flash peace signs before continuing on with the question-and-answer period.
Smith immediately posted the photo to his @TeamSwish Instagram account with the caption, "#JustSaying."
After snapping the photo, Smith proceeded to plug his account. "I'm trying to get two million followers," he said.
Advancing to the Finals is a major step in what has been a whirlwind season for Smith, who began the year with the lowly Knicks. Instead of finishing the season in New York, where first-year coach Derek Fisher's team won just 17 games, Smith was shipped to the Cavaliers with Iman Shumpert in a midseason trade. Suddenly, he went from a team that missed the playoffs in 2014 and 2015 to a Cavaliers team that won 53 games and is set to face either the Warriors or the Rockets in the Finals.
Smith told reporters that he and his mother reflected on his drastic change in fortune immediately following Game 4.
"Talk about starting from the bottom, now you're here," Smith said his mother told him, referencing the famous Drake lyric.
The 29-year-old Smith can now set his sights on the first Finals trip of his 11-year career. He posted 18 points and 10 rebounds in Cleveland's closeout victory over Atlanta.
The Finals will begin on June 4. The Warriors hold a 3-1 series lead with Game 5 of the Western Conference finals set for Wednesday at Oracle Arena.