Opinion: The lineup change the Cavs should make now

Cleveland Cavaliers Kyle Korver (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers Kyle Korver (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers should make an early adjustment to the Boston Celtics, so that the team can get off to the right start early in the series.

As I wrote earlier, I’m not overwhelmingly afraid of the Boston Celtics in this series. There is however, one glaring match-up issue that has me very worried for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, I do think that Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue could find a way to mitigate this issue even before tip-off of Game 1 but I don’t anticipate seeing it. 

I’m talking, unfortunately, about the player who perhaps saved the entire season against the Pacers. Kyle Korver.

Despite being 37 years old, Korver is still one of the best shooters in the entire NBA. Offensively, he still a very important piece of this Cavaliers team.

My worry here is on the other end of the floor. Who is Korver going to guard in this series?

My assumption is that he will start out on Jaylen Brown. I know that the former Cal standout and #3 overall pick is dealing with some lingering effects of a hamstring strain but he would be still be a bad matchup for Korver even if he had a cinder-block attached to his leg.

Brown is an explosive athlete who will be able to run circles around Korver. He’s also greatly improved as a three-point shooter (41% in these playoffs.)

Anytime Brown beats Korver off the dribble, the Cavs defense is going to have to collapse and there will be shooters open. That presents quite a conundrum because the other four starters (Rozier, Tatum, Morris, and Horford,) can all make threes. If I’m Brad Stevens, I’m going straight at Korver early and often to eliminate one of the Cavs best offensive options.

So how do the Cavs avoid this? Go big.

I would move Tristan Thompson back into the starting five. This immediately eliminates the Korver issue as LeBron James can slide down to the 3 and guard Jaylen Brown. Kevin Love is certainly capable of holding Marcus Morris in check. In addition to the better match-ups on defense, the Cavs would also force the Celtics into a bind on the glass.

Thompson dominated Horford in last year’s playoffs on the rebounding front. They would likely have to counter by playing Aron Baynes more. This would leave Korver to guard someone off the Celtics bench, like Semi Ojeleye (who is averaging 1.8 ppg in these playoffs.)

Next: Opinion: Why I’m not afraid of the Celtics

I think this move will end up getting made at some point after game 1, why not try to make a preemptive?