At the worst possible time (or depending who you are talking to, the best), JR Smith and the Zhejiang Bulls are riding into town. Like their provincial neighbours, the Guangsha Lions, the Bulls are in panic mode, having lost a couple of games they shouldn’t have and flailing about trying to make it to the postseason. The visitors arrive at the Yuanshen with a 4-10 record on the road and have leaked 104ppg in their travels away from Yiwi, while the Sharks, now in seventh place, can take a sizable step towards the playoffs with a win today. Lose, and it the dream could be done for this season. Everything is poised on a knife-edge.
Unsurprisingly, the Zhejiang play book starts and ends with Smith, who is averaging 35.6ppg and has electrified the CBA since he arrived in China. Josh Boone (19.9ppg) and Ding Jinhui (10.2ppg) offer excellent support but this will be about Smith, who despite his eccentricities (on and off the court) will blow the Sharks right out of the water if he is not given the necessary attention.
This will be undoubtedly a night of high drama and Smith will arrive in Shanghai to a raucous reception from the home crowd. Zhejiang are a dangerous side who know that defeat here could cost them their own place in the playoffs but the Sharks have already beaten Xinjiang, Qingdao, Guangsha, Shanxi, Beijing and Fujian at home already so they have the know-how to take down big teams. To keep the playoff run alive though, Shanghai has to repeat the trick another time.