Nets-Hawks Playoff Preview: Do The Nets Have A Snowball’s Chance In Kyle Korver’s Shooting Hand?

The Nets are the underdogs against Al Horford & the Hawks. (AP)

The outer circle


If Horford is the sun in Atlanta’s solar system, Kyle Korver is Pluto, orbiting the paint at eclectic, unforeseen angles that few can grasp and fewer can control. The Korver threat is real, and unless you’re a Nets fan, it’s freaking spectacular: watch a frantic Bogdanovic struggle with the decision to cut off Korver in the corner or leave DeMarre Carroll wide open to do whatever the hell he pleased. Just guess what he chose to do.

The crazy part is: that’s the right decision! Giving up a corner 3 to Kyle Korver is akin to possession death. When people say it’s the equivalent of an open layup, they’re actually wrong; a shot from the Korver Korner this season was worth an expected 1.61 points, while the average open layup[note]”Open” defined as at least four feet between the shooter & closest defender, per[/note] was only worth 1.45 points.

That’s right: Korver from the corner was a better option than an average NBA player shooting an open layup. It’s like when teams would intentionally walk Barry Bonds with the bases loaded because giving up one run was better than the expected alternative.

You just cannot leave the dude, under any circumstances. There’s a reason why Korver is the only player on the Hawks that has a negative off-court differential — i.e. the Hawks get outscored when Korver sits on the bench — and it’s also no coincidence that the Hawks shredded the Nets with Korver on the floor this season.[note]Plus-minus is inherently flawed, but it’s telling that the closest the Nets came to beating the Hawks came in a three-point game in which Korver was a +25 in 33 minutes.[/note] The attention he draws just by flying around the floor is enough to create open looks for just about anyone he touches, and if you dare sleep on a screen or are slow on a rotation, you might as well crouch into a defensive stance and slide your feet to the bench.

If Alan Anderson’s not 100 percent healthy, Markel Brown might be Brooklyn’s best chance at bothering Korver into an off night or two. But for all his athleticism, Brown still gets hung up on off-ball screens, and the Hawks were happy to double-team anyone on the Nets who could score with Brown on the floor. Hollins switched out Brown for Bogdanovic immediately after this below play, and the Hawks paid him as much attention on the bench.


Edge: Hawks


News from Around NYC