Kyle Korver has been one of the Cavs’ most important pieces throughout the 2018 NBA playoffs. It sounds strange to say that about a 37-year-old sharpshooter well past the prime of his career, but the numbers support it.
When Korver has scored at least 12 points, Cleveland is 8-0 in the postseason. When he has hit at least four 3-pointers, the Cavs are 7-0. He’s certainly not the main reason for the team’s success because a guy named LeBron James exists, but you would think he’d be on the floor for significant minutes in a huge Game 5 against the Celtics, right?
Nope. Korver failed to log a second of playing time in the first quarter of Wednesday night’s 96-83 loss, finishing with seven points in a little over 18 minutes of action. It was certainly a confusing decision by Cavs coach Tyronn Lue — and he didn’t exactly have a great explanation for why Korver was stuck to the bench in the opening period.
NBA PLAYOFFS: SN’s live blog of Cavs-Celtics
“Well, initially [Celtics coach Brad Stevens has] been putting [Semi] Ojeleye in, so that’s been kind of Kyle’s matchup when he comes in the game,” Lue said in response to a question from The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd. “When he didn’t play him tonight, it kind of threw us for a loop.”
Here’s the baffling Ty Lue quote where he says Brad Stevens“threw (the Cavs) for a loop” by declining to play Ojeleye. That’s why Korver didn’t play as many minutes because that was his matchup…… pic.twitter.com/tCpTRKghG5
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) May 24, 2018
Coaches make lineup changes based on matchups all the time, especially in the playoffs when every tiny advantage counts, but choosing to sit one of your most productive players because he can’t go out against a guy averaging 2.5 points per game in the Eastern Conference finals is just . . . weird. Ojeleye is a fine role player, but he shouldn’t impact your rotation at this stage in the series.
By the way, the Cavs got outscored 32-19 in the first quarter and shot only 7-of-17 from the field. Korver might have been able to help there.
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