CLEVELAND, Ohio — After the worst free-throw shooting season of his career, LeBron James vowed to fix his problems going into the playoffs. And he called on one of the best for some instruction: teammate Kyle Korver.
“Myself and Kyle, we kind have been brainstorming about it, how to get it to be more efficient,” James said following the Cavaliers’ Game 1 win against Indiana. “I mean, Kyle is probably one of the most efficient guys we have from the free throw line on our team. So, I’m a basketball mind, I’m open minded about trying to figure out ways that can help my efficiency so, it’s a good start.”
In the past, James modeled one approach after former Miami teammate Ray Allen. This regular season alone, James tried at least three different routines before unveiling the new one on his first attempt Saturday afternoon.
Instead of standing with his feet side-by-side, James staggered his stance, putting his left foot further back.
He also kept the ball higher before releasing it as opposed to dipping down below the waist like he did during one of the final regular season games against the Atlanta Hawks.
The results were mixed on Saturday. James made his first four before finishing 6-of-9 from the stripe.
“It’s a routine we’re going to stick with,” James said.
Free throws weren’t just a James issue this season. The Cavs were one of the worst as a team, shooting a shade under 75 percent and ranking 23rd in the league. Those issues persisted in their playoff opener. As a team, the Cavs went 14-of-27 (51.9 percent), one of the reasons Indiana had a chance to steal Game 1 in the closing seconds.
“I addressed it after the game,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. “We can play better and we will play better. We missed 13 free throws, turned the ball over and got 19 points in transition. And just cleaned up a few things. The playoffs are about adjustments and what you can do better. Hats off to them, they played well. But we’ll be better.”
It’s not the first time this season Korver has aided one of his teammates. Tristan Thompson, who missed all three of his freebies Saturday, called on Korver in January and the two worked on Thompson getting more arc on his shot.
“You can always make changes,” Thompson told cleveland.com at the time. “You can always make adjustments. Never too late. It’s up to the player. Do they want to make that change and build that muscle memory? Paul Millsap went from dunking the ball to shooting threes.”
Tristan Thompson getting free-throw help from Kyle Korver