CLEVELAND -- Shooting guard Kyle Korver went from a starting spot with the Atlanta Hawks to a reserve role with the Cleveland Cavaliers following an early-January trade, but in the postseason, it is not about starting, and more about finishing.
And fortunately for the Cavaliers, Korver was finishing in Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors, as he helped the team hold a 60-39 advantage in the fourth quarters of the final two games of the sweep.
“He’s definitely had to adjust, and when you’re a great shooter the way he is, sometimes, it’s mind-boggling to see that he hasn’t had a shot in six or seven minutes, and he gets that one shot and it doesn’t touch the rim,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.
“That’s what happens when you’re a pure shooter. We’re just fortunate to have him on the team. He’s made some big shots for us in these playoffs, and just hopefully, he can continue to do that for us.”
The Cavaliers were not active at the NBA trading deadline in mid-February, but they were in early January and again, during the buyout season of veterans whose contracts were purchased by teams that had fallen out of contention.
During those periods, the Cavaliers added another sharpshooter from three-point range, Korver, in a trade with the Hawks, and then, signed veteran point guard Deron Williams to help small forward LeBron James run the second-team offense.
And those additions have paid dividends for the Cavaliers through the first two rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, where Cleveland swept their way past a Central Division foe, the Indiana Pacers, in the first round, as well as the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
After getting just nine shots in the first two games against the Raptors, Korver responded by knocking down eight of his 12 looks from three-point range over the final two victories.
“It just means a lot,” Lue said. "Whenever he’s on the floor, it’s a bonus for us because teams are not going to leave him, and that’s going to allow LeBron, Kevin and Kyrie to play efficient, get to the basket.
“Teams are not going to leave him, and we understand that, so even when he’s not shooting the basketball, that’s a weapon we can use and we understand that. If they do leave him, he’s going to make them pay, so it’s a weapon for us and we enjoy it.”
Over eight games with Cavaliers this postseason, Williams has averaged 6.4 points, 2.6 assists, 1.3 rebounds and 0.5 steals over 16.0 minutes in a reserve role with the second-team offense.
Additionally, Williams has converted 62.1 percent of his field goal attempts and 60 percent of his looks from three-point range. Williams has knocked down at least two shots in seven of the Cavaliers’ eight postseason games.
“He’s been very important, being more aggressive shooting the basketball because he’s a good shooter, playing with pace, being able to pass on time, on target, getting guys shots and just having a veteran point guard who’s been an All-Star many years and has been a great player in this league over the years,” Lue said.
“To have him as your backup point guard, who’s been a starter for so many years, it’s big for us. To calm us down, settle us down, get us the right shot in the possession when we need it, he’s been huge.”