It’s been quite the postseason for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After needing seven games to take down the pesky Indiana Pacers, no one expected Cleveland to come out and become the first team to punch their ticket to the Conference Finals. The Cavs did just that, rolling through the Toronto Raptors in four games.
Part of the reason this happened was that Cleveland has LeBron James, and when he’s on the floor in the postseason with the Raptors, he wins. But a far more interesting aspect of how the Cavs came out on top was illustrated in a piece by Zach Lowe of ESPN, which highlights the two-man game between Kyle Korver and Kevin Love.
Both players have always been smart, savvy operators on the offensive end, with Korver’s off-ball movement being one of his calling cards and Love’s ability to read and react to a defense being a crucial part of his game. In this specific instance, the Cavs’ offense has a very specific play: Korver stands in the corner and Love comes and sets a screen on his man. From there, things get fluid, which lets Love take advantage of mismatches and Korver gets the freedom to move around with a mismatch.
As Lowe explains, getting to do this makes Korver a little different from other shooters Cleveland has had in the past.
A partnership with Love has given Korver a way to remain engaged. A lot of spot-up shooters who play with LeBron stand still, waiting for LeBron to break the defense and kick the ball out. Korver cannot stand still. He’s hyperactive, impatient, curious as to what kind of space he can unlock for others just by moving around. He found two muses in Atlanta in Mike Budenholzer and Quin Snyder, a Hawks assistant in 2013-14, but even Budenholzer sometimes wanted Korver to chill in the corner.
Korver told Lowe that Cleveland can sometimes fall victim to doing the easiest thing on earth — “We can’t just stand and watch LeBron. That’s a trap we all fall into. It’s fine to do that sometimes. But we have to stay involved.” — but for the most part, this two-man game has rejuvenated Love and made Korver an even more dangerous player within the Cavs’ offense. The freedom the two do whatever they want out of that two-man game is dangerous with a playmaker of James’ caliber, and with a few days to figure out what to do before the Conference Finals start, Love and Korver could continue to carve up defenses for the rest of the postseason.