Cleveland Cavaliers’ Deron Williams, right, follows through on a shot as teammate LeBron James watches during an NBA basketball practice, in Oakland, Calif. The Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Deron Williams is a three-time NBA All-Star, and a two-time member of the All-NBA Second Team.
Kyle Korver is a former NBA All-Star, and has led the Association four times in three-point percentage.
The two Cleveland Cavaliers are making it to the NBA Finals for the very first time though. And on the eve of game one, the duo are playing down nerves kicking in.
“Oh I’ll be nervous for sure [as game one approaches],” Korver admitted. “It’s good though. If I’m not a little nervous, I don’t feel like I ever play very well. But I think that part of the challenge is being able to relax.”
“It’s still early,” said Williams. “I’m sure once I come out tomorrow to shoot before the game, you’ll get a sense for the energy in the building.”
Korver and Williams headline the Cavaliers’ in-season acquisitions. Cleveland acquired Korver from the Atlanta Hawks in January, shipping out Mike Dunleavy Jr., Mo Williams, a 2019 protected first-round pick, and cash. Williams was released by the Dallas Mavericks after the trade deadline, with the Cavaliers pouncing on him after he cleared waivers late in February.
After playing big roles on their previous squads, the two have had to adjust to being role players, coming off the bench for Cleveland. Both credit LeBron James though for making the transition as smooth as possible.
“Oh he’s the best,” Korver said of James. “He’s the best player, but he also really cares about the team.
“The first thing he told me: You get the ball, just shoot it. If you’re open at all, just shoot it. I don’t care if you miss, I just want you to shoot it. To have that guy have confidence in you, it really helps.”
“You’re playing with the best player in the world [James], arguably the best point guard in the game,” opined Williams. “So for me, it was a team that’s already established. They won it last year. So for me…coming over here and learning to not play, where I had the ball in my hands for the whole game and didn’t know if I was going to play 20 minutes or 10 or 15 or what. But after a while and kind of settling in to things and learning what they need from me, it’s becoming a lot easier.”
In 35 games with the Cavaliers, Korver is shooting 48.5 percent from beyond the arc on just under six attempts a game. That’s dipped slightly to 41.5 percent in the postseason.
Williams meanwhile put up 7.5 points and 3.6 assists in 24 regular season outings, 5.6 points and 2.5 assists in the Playoffs.
Now, four wins away from a title, the two are focused on helping “The King” make it back-to-back titles for Cleveland.
“It’s been a long journey,” Wiliams said. “A lot of ups and downs, but it’s well worth it. Once you get here and once you’re in the Finals, it’s definitely exciting. I feel blessed to be in this position and to be able to compete for a championship. And just trying to live in the moment, relish it, and enjoy it, because don’t know if it will ever happen again.”
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