A championship team requires key role players: a controlling point guard, a consistent 2-guard, a go-to shooter, a dominating presence on the board and a strong inside man.
In the Eastern Conference Semifinals two weeks ago against the Atlanta Hawks, Game 3 displayed Bulls players in each of those roles. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver were contributing to each aspect of the game.
Korver was the go-to shooter, scoring 11 points and shooting 75 percent from behind the arc.
Since that game, Korver has transitioned from being a consistent shooter from downtown to his only consistency being one three per game.
He shot 53 percent for the Utah Jazz during last’s regular season, compared to this year’s 41 percent. While his shooting in general has gone down, he’s been known to make huge shots at the most opportune times.
In this year’s first round of playoffs, those big time shots led him to a 10.4 ppg average. To Bulls fans' dismay, however, his average in the Heat series is a dismal 3.0 ppg.
A large part of shooting success comes from confidence, and especially after his 1-for-5 performance in game one last week, his confidence is almost non-existent. Not only has he struggled offensively, he has not compensated with his defense or on the boards.
Korver has gone from being a major contributor to a major concern.
The timing of Korver’s decline could not have been more perfect for the Heat. Before this slump, Korver was a menacing presence on the outside, causing a defensive nightmare for teams already trying to focus on keeping Rose out of the lane.
His delivery of perfectly timed back-breaking threes played a huge role in momentum changes and ultimately, the Bulls’ success in the Conference Quarterfinals against the Pacers and the last series against the Hawks.
Tuesday's game is an extremely important game for the Bulls, a win is necessary for a switch in momentum that currently stands in favor of the Heat after their two back-to-back wins.
Beyond improving in offensive production and defending of Bosh, Wade and James, a key to success for tonight relies on Korver’s improvement and Rose, Boozer, Noah and Deng filling their respective roles.
In the role of go-to shooter, Korver needs to expect to make more than one three.