CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 12: Kyle Korver #26 of the Chicago Bulls is congratulated by Carlos Boozer #5 and Taj Gibson #22 after hitting a three-point shot against the Miami Heat at the United Center on April 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Heat 96-86 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Korver scored 17 points in a shade under 19 minutes, shooting 5-for-6 on 3s. And that's not all. He also had two assists.
The Heat defensive scheme resembles the Bulls in their ball-side pressure with a more hyper-aggressive on-ball pressure. That pressure makes it more difficult to see the floor for ball-handlers and can force spot shooters to put the ball on the floor, turn the ball over, or kill their own shot clock.
There's little that frustrates aggressive help defenses like an offense's ability to quickly move the ball from the strong to weak side of the court. Whether it's to baseline cutters or 3-point snipers, this tactic kills, as we've seen when the Bulls defense goes through sputters.
Korver, as Brett Koremenos notes at NBA Playbook, has a combination of skill and I.Q. that elevates his value as a "shooting specialist":
This combination of speed, shooting accuracy and off the ball movement causes an entire defense to account for Korver's whereabouts at all times. This is when a shooting specialist becomes truly dangerous to an opponent as even a split second without focus can result in a quick three points. During that time, a player like Korver, averaging just a shade under 23 minutes per game, can find himself forcing three or more defenders to focus on his presence on any given play. A right normally received for superstars.
Against Miami, Korver twice drew three defenders to himself out of this set, moved the ball and allowed a teammate to attack rotating defense. In both the following clips, he does exactly that only to find the ball coming back to him in the end. When that happens, well, he does what he does best; knocks down the shot.
However, the threat of a Korver shot attempt never had a bigger effect than during the Bulls final possession in regulation. Down three, out of a sideline out-of-bounds, Korver receives a dribble hand-off from Boozer only to find himself surrounded (once again) by three Heat defenders. With some quick and accurate ball movement, Korver and Boozer combine to find CJ Watson all alone on the opposite of the floor. Watson then uses a great shot-fake, dribble-adjustment against a Dwyane Wade closeout and ties the game. A game (spoiler alert) the Bulls eventually ended up winning in overtime.
In some games, we've seen Korver attack strong defense by curling around screens for elbow jumpers. In some, lately, we've seen him take a couple of dribbles through a hole for a floater. But against a defensive effort he understands through experience like that of the Heat, Korver has the combination of an efficient quickshot, court vision, off-ball speed, mechanically-sound agility, and accurate passing to disrupt even the best of Miami's defensive efforts.
Thursday, Korver's shot demanded attention and when he got it, success for the Bulls demanded Korver's quick ball movement. And when he wasn't on the run, it was when he understood that he was occupying 3-point space on the weak side, only moving his feet to remain in the visual path of the ball handler.
Can he shoot five 3s frequently? Hell no. But can he demand attention off the ball and exploit traps when he has it? He'll need to do so for the Bulls to stand a chance against the Heat. And any wins against the Heat in the playoffs will likely be largely due to that.
Take a look at Koremenos' video analysis of Korver picking apart the Heat defense here.