1.Who is more valuable in this series to their respective team: Kyle Korver or J.R. Smith?
David Zavac: J.R. Smith. The Hawks, in theory, should be able to get their shooting somewhere else. The Cavs rely on guys like James Jones, who is tough to play in the first place, and Iman Shumpert who is not, historically, a good three point shooter. J.R. Smith has to provide offense for the Cavs. If Kyrie Irving is good to great in this series, maybe Korver takes on more importance. But for now, I'm going with Smith.
Mike Mayer: I agree. With Irving likely still hobbled, Smith is more important. Matthew Dellavedova's shooting was great against Chicago, especially in Game 6. But he was 2-for-7 from three against the Celtics. James Jones hit 42 percent of his threes against Chicago, but only 18 percent against the Celtics. The point is that the Cavs don't have a lot of consistent shooting they can rely on, so they need Smith to provide some.
William Bohl: Kyle Korver. Bradley Beal did an amazing job on Korver during the Eastern Conference Semis, as the record-setting sharpshooter averaged just 7 points per game on 29% three-point shooting. While the Hawks found other ways to score, they'll need to be firing on all cylinders to beat the Cavs, who are a considerably better offensive team (even in their hobbled state) than the Wizards.
Aaron Perine: Korver. Remember when a bunch of national pundits said that Kyle Korver should have absolutely be an All-Star? This would be the series to prove all that bluster was worth it. As William just said, the Hawks aren't facing the Wizards anymore so they would need great contributions from all their players in this series. J.R. is super important but he plays with LeBron and Kyrie.
Trevor Magnotti: I will also take Kyle Korver. It's not just the shooting with him, which has already been touched on; Korver's defense has been fantastic in the playoffs, as the Hawks have been 3.0 points/100 possessions better defensively with him on the floor, and he disrupts passing lanes with his quick hands and really did a nice job on Bradley Beal in Games 5 and 6 of the Wizards series. J.R. scoring a bunch will help, but the threat of Korver as a shooter and wing defender makes him more valuable.
Ryan Mourton: I agree with David ... weird. Smith is one of the rare two way players on the Cavs roster. Without a healthy Kyrie Irving, Smith and Iman Shumpert will be relied on heavily to negate Kyle Korver and help on to Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroeder.
Chris Manning: Kyle Korver. Smith is hugely valuable to the Cavs and even more so with Irving hurt, but Korver could make the Cavs life hell in this series. Whoever defends him - Smith, Iman Shumpert, Kyrie Irving, etc. - is going to have to chase him around on defense. His whole job is to wear people out and hit open shots. If he can wear down whoever defends him - and if it's Irving, that's huge - he's a potential MVP of this series. This is a thin Cavs team and Korver is the Hawk most likely to exploit that.
2. Let's say Kyrie Irving is still slowed by his tendinitis and foot strains. Who should he defend out of the Hawks starting five?
DZ: Kyle Korver I guess. I don't want to minimize what Korver does, but he relies on other guys to set him up and doesn't have the ball in his hands as much as someone like Jeff Teague. He's not immobile, of course, but he doesn't have elite quickness. Korver would make him work, there's no doubt about it, but I think that's what you do.
MM: If they want to keep him off of Teague, then Korver is probably the only other option.
WB: Korver. I guess. David is underselling how poorly that could go, but he's right that Teague's quickness vs. a hobbled Kyrie is worse than forcing Kyrie to weave through multiple screens to try to contest a Korver shot.
AP: I think you have to put him on Korver but, Teague is playing dinged up too. It could be interesting if the Cavs could steal some minutes with Kyrie guarding Teague if Atlanta's point guard isn't having a great game.
TM: I think he should be guarding Dennis Schroder or Kent Bazemore whenever they're in the game, and Teague against the starters. I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea of running him into Al Horford and Pero Antic in screen mazes all series, and while Teague is a great isolation scorer, Kyrie will at least have help over top in most scenarios on Teague drives. I don't want him taking more contact than he needs to. And really, the Hawks' backup guards have been suspect all Playoffs, and I wouldn't mind Kyrie checking out early then playing heavy second-quarter minutes where he can hide on Schroder, Baze, or Shelvin Mack.
RM: Similar to how they did with Derrick Rose in stretches, they just need to put him on Teague and live with it in stretches, and then try to hide him on Schroeder or Bazemore like Trevor said.
CM: Korver to start off with but I'd move him onto Schroder or Bazemore when either is on the floor. Irving chasing around Korver is potentially disastrous if Kyrie can't keep him as the Hawks set screens to get Korver open, but defending Jeff Teague in space might not go well either. Atlanta going to a two-point guard lineup would actually be really good for the Cavs, as you can hide Irving on an off guard and let him save up his energy for offense.
3. True or False: Timofey Mozgov is going to have a hard time staying on the floor against Atlanta.
DZ: True. He's averaging less than 26 minutes a game in the playoffs as it is. I'd guess his minutes range from 16-28 in this series.
MM: I have to agree with David once again. Mozgov's value against a team like Atlanta won't be as high as should have been, in theory, against Chicago. I know that David Blatt's decision to start Mike Miller in Game 1 of the last series was a disaster, in retrospect, but I wouldn't be shocked if at some point in this series the Cavs end up taking either Thompson or Mozgov out of the starting lineup again to better matchup with the Hawks.
WB: False, if only because the Cavs don't have any other options. Unless, of course, LeBron wants to play a whole lot of power forward and Cleveland is comfortable with Tristan at the five for long, long stretches.
AP: False, but Cleveland is going to need like two games where Mozgov will be down in the paint as a defensive threat against Al Horford and Paul Millsap for more than 25 minutes a game. Both are slightly undersized so paint presence is a wild card.
TM: I think it depends on how well Atlanta spreads the floor. If they can't get consistent three point shooting for a third straight series, I have a feeling they'll start trying to attack the rim more, and Mozgov being on the floor is going to help protect against Jeff Teague killing them off the dribble, as discussed above. If they get into January-February Hawks shooting mode, though, it might be worth sitting him, but even then, I want him in there to make Horford work on the offensive end for stretches. I don't think he'll see a huge minutes reduction unless he's in foul trouble.
RM: True. Mozgov had trouble staying on the floor last series, to some extent. Cavs small lineups will probably have to rule the day. If he has a game like game 5 of the Bulls series, he might stay on more, but his offensive gaffs and slow feet will make it. Covering Al Horford is whole lot different that watching Joakim Noah basically defend himself.
CM: True. All of Atlanta's bigs like to wander out of the paint and can take jump shots. And the guy Mozgov is going to guard to start off the game - Al Horford - is an incredibly mobile center who isn't going to just stand in place. If the Hawks want to, they can consistently pull Mozgov out of the paint and that largely kills his value to the Cavs. He'll be awesome when the Hawks post Horford up, but I suspect he'll really struggle otherwise. I think that will take him off the floor.