After a 111-102 victory in Game 4, the Cleveland Cavaliers have tied up the Eastern Conference Finals 2-2. Most of the time when the Cavaliers get a win, the first reason we give for their victory is always the same, LeBron James. Rightfully so, James is almost always the high scorer for the Cavs. In their two victories in the Conference Finals, James scored 27 and 44. LeBron James is the number one reason why the Cavaliers win, but we often stop looking for reasons why they win after that. I don’t want to take any credit away from LeBron James, because he is the best player in the world and without him the Cavs would be nothing, but I think it’s time to give credit where credit is due.
While several Cavaliers have stepped up in the last couple of games, there’s not a Cavalier I’ve been more impressed with than Kyle Korver. I know the first thing I typically think of when I think about Kyle Korver is “three point shooter.” Korver has been one of the best three point shooters in the league for several years now. He’s got a career three point percentage of 43.1%. In the Cavaliers two victories over the Boston Celtics, Korver has hit 6 of 9 three point shots (66.6%).
Korver’s three point shooting is impressive, but there’s so much more he does that we might miss. After watching Game 4 last night, I noticed how good Korver is defensively. After averaging 0.4 steals and 0.4 blocks per game during the regular season, it’s clear Korver doesn’t always put up big stats defensively, although last night he actually did have three blocks credited to his name, but that doesn’t mean he’s not having an impact on the game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Korver has allowed his matchups to shoot 8 for 28 (29%) over the last three games when he’s the primary defender. He’s not the most athletic and he’s not the biggest, but he plays tough defense. He always seems to be in the right spot. Several times last night I saw Korver give his man a tough time on the defensive end, forcing contested shots.
To go along with his defense, Korver brings hustle to the Cavaliers. One play sticks out specifically from Game 4. Boston had the ball on their side of the court and the ball gets tipped into the back court. A couple different Celtics players went after the ball, and among them was Kyle Korver. Korver wasn’t the fastest of the players, but he dove for the ball, which led to the Cavs getting another possession and stopping the Celtics from scoring on their current one. Korver hit the ground and sacrificed his body. What I love about this the most, is that Korver had no way of being sure the Cavs would get the ball. Korver hit the floor for the possibility of getting the ball back. “I felt so incredibly old and slow when I dove after that ball, but the heart was in the right spot,” said Korver when asked about the play.
While LeBron James is scoring 40 points, Kyle Korver isn’t worried about getting all the attention. He’s in the background making championship plays. “That means that’s a guy that’s all about winning, and whatever it takes to win,” said Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue. This kind of play from Kyle Korver is exactly what the Cavaliers need to advance to the NBA Finals for the fourth year in a row. I’m sticking with my original pick of the Cavaliers, and the play of Kyle Korver is one of the main reasons why. I know it may not be as exciting, but instead of watching LeBron James in Game 5, try watching Kyle Korver.