Cavs And J.R. Smith Have Become Kyle Korver’s Worst Nightmare
Kyle Korver may not be the Hawks’ leading scorer, but when he gets his shot, it opens up tons of opportunities for his teammates and they become an even more dangerous team.
In the first round series against the Boston Celtics, a team that defends very well, Korver seemed to have found his rhythm after a subpar regular season. In six games, he averaged 12.2 points on 48.1% shooting from the field and 45% on three pointers. He also canned in an average of three long distance makes per game.
However, come Game 1 of the East Semis against Cleveland, Korver played almost 37 minutes but attempted a shot only once. He only scored three points, all from the charity stripe. As usual, Cleveland did their homework and contained Korver.
In Chris Haynes’ recent article for Cleveland.com, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue stressed on the importance of negating Kyle Korver’s presence.
We want to make sure we lock into Korver, but we’ve still got to have our help because they have great players. You’ve got to show your help, you’ve got to get back to him, but if we take him out of the game, they have a tough time scoring. … He’s a big part of what they do and we’ve got to lock into him and try to take him out of the series.
Korver himself also acknowledged the work that the Cavs have put out on him.
They do a great job of locking in. If I come off a screen, there’s always someone there to hedge out or to help. If they see someone is beat, they just switch it. But I think there’s ways for us to take advantage of that too. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to try to find some more space and be more aggressive.
Dating back to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers have owned the Atlanta Hawks nine consecutive times. One important constant for that entire period is how the Cavs defended sharpshooter Kyle Korver.
But a lot of credit also goes to J.R. Smith. The veteran guard is not only a spot up shooter. When he is locked in, he hustles, rebounds, and defends like how his former coaches dreamed about.
It’s really just about effort at that point. I know they’re going to set screens for him, I know they’re going to try to look for him and get him open. So, just try to run, get through the screens and try to stay close to him as much as possible, especially in transition.
A shooter will always be a threat despite having an off night, and who else would understand that the most than another long distance marksman.