As if it couldn’t get any worse for the Atlanta Hawks, it just did. After getting handled rather easily by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2, the team found out that their best 3-point shooter Kyle Korver is going to miss the rest of this year’s NBA playoffs.
Korver limped off the court in the third quarter with a high right ankle sprain after Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova rolled on his ankle while diving for a loose ball. Korver wasn’t that effective in this game as he scored 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, grabbed 1 rebound, dished out 1 assist, and had 1 steal – real close to a quadruple double.
The Hawks are unsure of whether or not Korver will need ankle surgery.
Korver’s Value to the Hawks
Losing a 3-point shooter is bad for any team, but here are some statistics that show that losing Korver is a huge blow to the Hawks:
Korver was one of four Hawks players who made the All-Star team this season (Teague, Horford, Korver, Millsap).
- Korver is 6’ 7” and plays as a guard/forward hybrid. This means he could have been guarding someone like J.R. Smith AKA J.R. Swish and/or LeBron James, two players that have obviously been going off in this series.
- Korver averaged 12.1 ppg during the regular season and led the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage…for the second consecutive season.
- With Korver on the court, the Hawks have outscored their opponents by 60 points this postseason.
- With Korver off the court, the Hawks have been outscored by 30 points this postseason.
What This Means for the Hawks
Honestly, after the Spurs fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in the divisional round and the Chicago Bulls basically quit in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, I thought this team would be the next biggest threat to Cleveland matchup-wise. All season long, the Hawks have been playing a brand of basketball similar to Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs AKA LeBron’s kryptonite. In fact, the Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer worked previously under Popovich as an assistant coach so he is very familiar with coaching team basketball rather than relying on Superstars to carry him to the Promised Land. However, this is perhaps the Hawks biggest flaw.
The Hawks don’t have a consistent go-to-scorer on the team. In just about every game they’ve played, it seemed like someone different was always stepping up. That’s great for a team like the Spurs who have top players at their positions like reigning defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard and the ageless Tim Duncan, but the Hawks virtually have a bunch of role players on the team. After losing Thabo Sefolosha to an off-the-court incident with the NYPD just before the start of the playoffs, Korver was the only other 3-point specialist left on the team. Now someone else is going to have to take up that mantle and whoever is going to do it, probably will not be as effective as Korver.
Trailing 2-0 in the series, the Hawks should probably hit the panic button because it is going to take a miracle for them to win this series now.
(Statistics courtesy of ESPN and my own knowledge)