Kent Bazemore replaced Korver in the starting lineup in Games 3 and 4 of the Hawks’ sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers. Kyle Korver should be the guy getting the Sixth Man attention, Wade said, considering Korver’s plus-minus numbers were the best on the team. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP even said he was “a little uncomfortable” with the praise he was getting for his bench role.
The Atlanta Hawks have been lighting up the NBA jersey for cheap two months now, and when they visited Chicago over the weekend everyone was wondering whom Atlanta will send to the All-Star Game.
Korver used to be a contender for the label of “best shooter ever” before Stephen Curry went into transcendence mode. But Korver was still pretty good until his past three mind-numbing, stupefying performances. One night after going 0-for-8 from 3-point range, Korver laid an 0-for-10 clunker Tuesday. In 914 previous NBA games, Korver had never gone worse than 0-for-7. In his past three games, Korver is 2-for-27 overall and 1-for-23 from deep.
No one really had a good answer for the question. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau rattled off the entire Atlanta starting lineup. Kyle Korver was asked about it after the Hawks breezed to their 12th straight win, and after pausing to consider it, he asked the reporter, “Who would you send?” Not only does James not regret making the pass to Korver — he would do it over again. And he explained why.
First, Korver’s debut was delayed by Mike Dunleavy having to be persuaded to report to Atlanta by Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer to make the trade official. Then Korver’s initial taste of Cavs basketball was an 0-2 back-to-back through Utah and Portland, with the worst road trip of the season sandwiched in between, as a rare winter storm pounded Rip City with snow.
Korver has 72 hours to report to the Cavs and still needs to undergo a physical. It’s possible that he could join the team on Sunday in Phoenix for the first of five games out West for the Cavs, whose trip will conclude with a Jan. 16 matchup at Golden State.
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The Pacers’ athletic wing player is 12 years younger than Korver and is going to compete in the dunk contest. Not an ideal cover, to put it politely. But even he was no match for Korver on Wednesday. The acquisition of Kyle Korver helps fill a need on the perimeter for the Cavaliers after the team lost J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen to injuries.
As with Durant’s ability to cash in on Korver’s missed 3, the Warriors have repeatedly victimized the Cavs for mistakes in the series and proved their star power and depth. It has shaken the Cavs without question, but they are still talking about fighting the good fight.
Seeing Korver go bananas, extending the Cavs’ hot run to six wins in their past seven games while beating a Pacers team that had won seven straight, was all well and good. But ultimately, all the Cavs will need out of him is floor-spacing ability, solid team defense and some timely shots should J.R. Smith come back fully healthy in the playoffs.
Korver will continue to become part of the Cavs’ culture, whether it be through experiencing his first postgame awards ceremony, where Cleveland honors whatever achievement a player reaches — tonight it was James congratulating Korver in front of the whole locker room for passing Jason Kidd for seventh all-time in 3-pointers — or even picking up a new nickname. James bestowed upon Korver the nickname “American Eagle,” inspired by the intricate tattoo of a bald eagle he has etched on the left side of his body spanning from his rib cage to abdomen.