CLEVELAND -- In each of the last three seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have made deals ahead of or at the NBA’s mid-February trade deadline, and each of have paid off in different ways, especially from three-point range after the acquisitions of shooting guards J.R. Smith (2015) and Kyle Korver back in January.
In particular, Korver played a key role in the Cavaliers’ close-out win over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, as well as a monumental comeback from a 25-point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of the first round.
“He’s been huge,” center Tristan Thompson said. “For him, what he’s been able to do on the offensive end, space the floor, especially for LeBron and Kyrie and K-Love for them to go one-on-one and be the great players that they are.
“Off the court, (he’s) just being a professional, coming in every day and working. Whether he plays 20 minutes or he plays 10 minutes, he does the same thing, has the same mindset every day, and as a young guy, you look at and you appreciate that stuff. You want to kind of mold yourself into being a pro like that.”
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, Korver was finishing in Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Raptors, as he helped the team hold a 60-39 advantage in the fourth quarters of the final two games of the sweep.
After getting just nine shots in the first two games, Korver responded by knocking down eight of his 12 looks from three-point range over the final two victories.
“He’s always been on the other side, doing the exit meeting after we beat the Hawks, so he’s glad he’s on the right side this time,” Thompson said. “He’s enjoying it, and we’re happy for him. Shoot, we’re fortunate to have a sharpshooter like that on our side."
By being a professional at the ready whenever Coach Tyronn Lue summons him from the bench, Korver has set an important example of hard work, one that drives his younger teammates to push themselves harder in the weight room during long breaks in-between series, like what the Cavaliers are finishing up after their second straight postseason sweep.
Korver’s example has been a reinforcement of the values taught by the coaching staff as well as other veteran players, which continued to inspire Thompson to push himself through the difficult workouts as to be ready for the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
And for Thompson, that means attacking his routine on the VersaClimber, no matter how unenjoyable that might be.
“It’s the best machine in the weight room, but it’s the one that everyone hates the most just because it works your arms, a full-body workout,” Thompson said. “It’s a bad word, but it gets us right and it keeps our heartrate up and keeps our conditioning at a high level so that we’re ready to play when we do play.”