Kyle Korver was the premier sharpshooter in the NBA this year. Averaging six three-point attempts per game, he knocked down an astounding 47.2 percent of them! Shooting this high of an average from downtown is impressive no matter how many attempts you take, but Korver shot almost 400. Because of this, anytime he steps onto the court, the opposing team’s defense has to take note and devote special attention, lest they get burned.
Through the first two games of the Hawks’ first round series against the Pacers, Korver had struggled to get going. He was just 3-11 from three and had scored just 15 points total. In Game 3, however, he was feeling it; he dropped 20 points on 4-7 from deep.
Here, we’ll look at how the Hawks freed Korver for one of those threes and the importance it had in their victory.
First, let’s get a sense of how the game was going up until this Korver triple. Since about mid-way through the third quarter, Atlanta had held a comfortable lead, the advantage reaching a dozen after two Lou Williams free throws with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. From there, though, the Pacers went on a run, cutting the lead down to just four in a matter of minutes. The Hawks—without a doubt the less talented team—were on the ropes. A few more baskets and the Pacers could have tied or taken the lead. And at that point, there’s a good chance Indiana could be setting 2-1 up in the series this morning instead of Atlanta. That obviously didn’t happen, however, thanks in large part to what transpired after the lead was chopped down to four.
Kyle Korver, while an amazing shooter, isn’t a guy who is going to create his own shot all the time; most of his threes come off of catch-and-shoot opportunities. This is fine, but it does affect the Hawks’ ability to get him the ball on occasion. An out-of-bounds play, therefore, is a perfect opportunity to get Korver an open look from a set play, and that’s exactly what the Hawks did here. They were in desperate need of a basket, and so they devised a plan to get one from their best shooter.
It begins with Korver inbounding the ball and the rest of the team set up in a bit of a diamond formation on the left side of the court.
Pero Antic then pops out to the corner, and Jeff Teague sets a back-pick for DeMarre Carroll, who cuts to the basket. The action with Carroll, however, is simply a diversion, used to distract the Pacers from the real agenda, and Korver inbounds the ball to Antic.
As Carroll is cutting, Antic quickly swings the ball to Teague, who has made his way to the top of the key. Immediately following the pass to Teague, Antic prepares to set a screen for Korver.
Antic sets a great screen, which Korver comes flying off of. In a split second, Korver stopped on a dime, received the pass from Teague, pivoted and let fly a sweet three. It swished through the net and became a four-point play as C.J. Watson fouled Korver, who drained the free throw.
Even though Indiana was probably expecting a look from Korver here, it didn’t matter because the Hawks executed a great play and Korver is just too good from downtown.
It was a huge basket that put an abrupt stop to Indiana’s mini run and got the Hawks back on track. Suddenly the Hawks’ lead had sprung to eight, and Phillips Arena was alive once again.