Opinion: Game 5 Performance Shows Kyle Korver Quietly Powering Cavs Postseason Surge
After King James beats Indiana in Game 5 with a buzzer-beater, we take a look at possibly his most trusted lieutenant this postseason.
It is known that the Cavaliers traded away much of their roster on deadline day in the hopes of changing the narrative and fielding a side that could complement LeBron James.
It would not be a stretch to say that the new additions have not performed as expected in the postseason. George Hill has been injured since Game 3, after scoring just 8.7 PPG and a measly 1.7 assists. Rodney Hood has been shooting an atrocious 20% from 3-point range since the beginning of the playoffs, while playing almost 20 minutes each game. Larry Nance Jr and Jordan Clarkson have fared little better. Nance has delivered a team-low +/- of -6.0, and Jordan Clarkson, who was brought in almost exclusively for his offensive talents, providing about 5 PPG with a bland 39% field goal percentage and an abysmal 22% from deep. However, this is also the very first time the pair are playing playoff basketball, and are learning on the fly. Clarkson had a solid Game 4, burying his first five shots to help the Cavs gain a 16-point lead, and Nance has been able to complement the rebounding with the second unit.
All this has caused LeBron James to unequivocally be what Playoff James is. DOMINANT. He has put the Cavaliers on his back yet again. If you need further proof that this man is unreal, LeBron leads the Cavaliers in not one, not two, not three, but four stat categories this postseason; leading the team in scoring, assists, rebounding and blocks. At 33 years of age, he has had double-doubles in every game of the playoffs so far, including a triple double in the first game. And his brilliance does not end there. Tied at 2-2 in the series, and at 95-95 in a pivotal Game Five, against a very capable Indiana and 3 seconds left on the clock, LeBron James goes and does this:-
After missing all his previous 3PT attempts, he hits one when it matters. This is just after chasing down Victor Oladipo and preventing him from getting the game-winner. Just King James doing King James things.
Earlier in the game however, Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo and Lance Stephenson were firing on all cylinders, seeing the Cavs down by 7. Cleveland required a little something to kick-start their offense, needing a spark to get them in position for LeBron's game winning 3-pointer that would have him feeling like a kid again. (h/t South China Morning Post)
This would be provided by Kyle Korver, coming off the screen with the KORVER SPLASH three from the arc. And again in the third quarter with 7:47 left on the clock, and the Cavs down by just one - who does LeBron go to? KORVER SPLASH it is again, with one dribble off a Kevin Love screen, setting the Cavaliers off on one of the more exciting wins in recent playoffs history.
This has not been a one-off for the artist briefly known as Mr. Fourth Korver. Kyle Korver had found his minutes slightly limited at the end of the regular season following the new arrivals. But following the tragic passing of his youngest brother last month, Korver has quite possibly been the second best player offensively for the Cavs this series vs Indiana. Apart from a short blip on the radar in Games 1 and 3, Korver has been putting up 3 after 3 for the Cavaliers. In Game 5, he hit 5 threes off 9 attempts, 6-of-11 overall to go with 6 REB and a steal. This was crucial, given Kevin Love's abysmal 2-of-11 shooting (just 1 three), and JR Smith, the usual three point barnburner, being held to a grand total of 0 points off 8 shots. The spacing Korver is providing is invaluable, given even on plays that he doesnt directly finish, Indiana defenders are always attempting to switch onto him, leaving someone else free to take the open shot, or in LeBron's case, free to drive and finish in his devastating manner.
Add this to his 2 blocks and an assist that he got in Game 4 (4 threes off 4-of-9 shooting), and the fact that he has managed to bury 1 out of every 2 3PT field goals he has attempted the over the last two games, and you have a player that is consistently proving to be tailor-made to suit LeBron's rough-housing driving-into-the-lane-destroying-everything-in-his-wake playing style. Fittingly, NBA.com/Stats is currently showing Korver as having the second best Player Impact Estimate(PIE) in the Cavaliers, behind James. An incredibly efficient three point shooter, who consistently keeps doing what he is so good at, and who has most definitely stepped up when his team have so badly required him, when others around him haven't been able to play to their fullest potential. A true three point shooting legend.
It is no fault of Kyle Korver's that all of this flying under the radar. This is a given when you play with the greatness that is King James.
But if Mr Fourth Korver kicks into full gear with the King's transcendent brilliance leading the way, and with just a bit of help from the rest of this supremely talented roster, there is quite literally no stopping the Cavaliers from making a giant KORVER SPLASH come the Finals in June.