Smith as the Unsung Hero?
With the Rockets stealing Game 7 against the Clips, they advanced to the Western Conference Finals to face the Golden State Warriors, who had the top seed in the Western Conference. Although the Rockets were eliminated by the Dubs within five games, the reality is they wouldn’t have made it that far without Josh Smith, who was their unsung hero of the Clippers series.
Smith averaged 9.7 points and 5.4 rebounds during the Western Conference Semifinals, while also shooting 34.8 percent from deep. Although those numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, the impact Smith had on the court was much bigger than the stats would indicate, as he made big plays down the stretch and provided the firepower the Rockets needed with Harden struggling.
Not only was he the unsung hero of that series, Smith was arguably the Rockets’ most consistent performer during their entire postseason. Smith did all that he could to help the Rockets against the Warriors, but they were outmatched and were eliminated within five games.
During that series, however, Smith made 40 percent of his 3-pointers, while averaging 14.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Smith was the Rockets’ second-leading scorer during that series, behind only Harden. All in all, Smith averaged 13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, while also making 38 percent of his 3-pointers during the 2015 postseason.
This landed Smith a new contract at the conclusion of the season, and rightfully so based on the impact he had on the court despite not initially appearing to be a fit on paper. Although year two of the J. Smoove era yielded much different results, the reality is he saved the Rockets’ season in his first year on the team and was arguably one of the team’s best postseason performers during the 2014-15 season.