Two teams with much to look forward to in the upcoming week meet at the Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday when the Cleveland Cavaliers begin the Western portion of a six-game trip with a matchup against the Phoenix Suns.
The Cavaliers will be taking the court for the first time since the acquisition of shooting guard Kyle Korver from the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday for veterans Mike Dunleavy and Mo Williams and a 2019 first-round pick.
“Obviously we know he can shoot the ball,” Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love said after Friday’s 116-108 win at Brooklyn. “With the way that we pass, he’s going to bring a whole new dynamic to this team to help spread the floor even more than we can now.”
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It’s possible Korver, a 42.9-percent 3-point shooter over his 14-year NBA career, could debut for his new team Sunday. But that would require both of the new Hawks to quickly have passed their physicals, and that could be problematic.
Williams has expressed no desire to play this season. While the 34-year-old has been earning his guaranteed $2.2 million while sitting out, he reportedly has been open to a contract buyout.
Those negotiations will now be handed off to a new team.
When all the formalities are complete — the players have until Tuesday to report to their new teams — Korver will be joining a team that already ranks second in the NBA in 3-pointers made this season with 448.
Even without the reinforcement, the Cavaliers set a team record for 3s in a game (22 against New York) and an NBA record for most consecutive games with 10 3s to start a season (16) already this year.
With or without Korver, the Suns have seen this long-distance-shooting act before. The Cavaliers buried 17 3-pointers the last time they visited Phoenix in a 101-97 win in December of 2015.
The Suns don’t figure to offer up much more resistance this time around. They currently rank second-to-last in the NBA in defending the 3-pointer, having allowed opponents to make 38.0 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.
Phoenix will attempt to counter Cleveland with firepower of its own.
Point guard Eric Bledsoe is coming off a 26-point performance in Thursday’s 102-95 win at Dallas, giving him nine games with 22 or more points among his last 15 outings.
And T.J. Warren, who will match up with LeBron James, actually outscored the reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player 23-14 the last time Cavaliers visited Phoenix.
After playing his starring role in the win over the Mavericks, Bledsoe told reporters he’s looking forward to bigger and better things.
“Big-time players show up in big games, and I want to be a big-time player,” he insisted. “I have to show up in crunch time no matter how bad the game is going for me. The last couple of minutes are my time.”
The Cleveland game won’t be the only time this week for Bledsoe to show off his abilities on a grand stage. The Suns next head to Mexico City for matchups with Dallas and San Antonio.