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Josh Smith Might Be The Most Polarizing Player In The NBA Playoffs

Josh Smith has been equal parts horrible (Game 2) and awesome (Game 4) for the Atlanta Hawks against the Chicago Bulls so it probably won't surprise anyone to find out that ESPN's John Hollinger named him, along with Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, as the most polarizing players in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

In Smith's case, it's one shot in particular that has made him a target -- the catch-and-shoot mid-range J that he oh-so-slowly lofts toward the rim while the locals groan in anticipation of a brick. Those of you new to Hawks basketball should know that has been going on for a couple of years now, and the crowd's groans are nothing compared to those of the coaching staff.

This is not going to surprise anyone who reads SB Nation Atlanta, but it should make people wonder something: If the national media notices it, and the local fans notice it, why does it continue to happen? Well, as Hollinger explains, Smith shooting jumpers isn't always a terrible idea.

By now most people have seen that Smith is 1-for-the-series on jump shots (he made his first one in Game 4), but that wasn't what happened in the regular season. In fact, Smith threw a new wrinkle into the debate this year by actually making enough jump shots to make it a non-terrible choice in the right situations.

Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to know when those are. When Smith shoots and there's only a couple seconds left on the shot clock, that's an appropriate choice. When there's 18 on the shot clock, however, it's a much more questionable decision.

Hopefully, at least for Hawks fans, the good Smith shows up for the remainder of the series. You know, the one that attacks the rim with reckless abandon and throws brilliant full-court passes while leading the Hawks to victory.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.