It is so easy for someone to say something after the fact, especially in sports where scenarios of players achieving in different environments after failing in others are plentiful. For Cleveland Cavaliers fans that are watching the NBA Finals hoping that LeBron James doesn’t get his second ring for more reasons than one, Danny Green is a player that the Wine and Gold faithful are currently saying, “What if?” about. With his performance in the San Antonio Spurs Game 5 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday (he shot 6-of-10 from three) that put his team up 3-2, he broke Ray Allen’s Finals record of most threes made in a NBA championship series. The previous mark of 22 three-pointers in the 2008 Finals (seven games) has been shattered by Green with at least one more game to go in the series. Green has now made 25 three-pointers in five games in only 38 attempts (66 percent). Out of the 53 shots he has taken so far in the series, 71.7 percent of those have been from beyond the arc. Yes, we can get as mad as we want about how our front office missed on a player like Green – who only averaged 2.0 points and 5.8 minutes in 20 games as a Cavalier –but for now let’s applaud what he is doing to the Heat. This team is full of unselfish producers, and Green just happens to be the starter who is finding the most openings and lapses in Miami’s defense (thanks Ray Ray).
Green, who converted on seven three-pointers in Game 3, came one three-pointer away from tying Allen’s record of eight treys in a single Finals game. If Green has yet another stellar performance, and there is nothing indicating that he won’t at this point, in Game 6 on Tuesday, then he could be well on his way to further writing his playoff legend. He is shooting a hair under Danny Ainge’s record for highest 3-point field goal percentage at 66.7 percent in a six-game series. Green could very well top this, especially if the Spurs can close things out early in Miami with a blowout win. The highest 3-point field goal percentage in a seven-game series is 48.4 percent by Robert Horry back in 2005. The Spurs don’t want it to come to that, so they hope to close things out sooner rather than later against the defensively hapless Heat. Dwyane Wade exploded with an incredible performance in all phases of the game in Game 4, but he is still failing to help LeBron shut down the conductors of San Antonio’s sharing tactics.
This Finals legend might not even be occurring in front of us if it wasn’t for former coach Roy Williams and current coach Gregg Popovich. After bouncing around in the NBA – being cut by the Cavaliers and Spurs (twice!!!) – the aforementioned coaches told him to get his mind right and get on the court with some confidence. After seeing his career quickly fading, Green made good use of his playing time during the 2011-12 season when Manu Ginobili went down with an injury. He improved his PPG average by 4.0 points and his 3-point shooting percentage by 6.8 percentage points from season before and became a complimentary player, along with Kawhi Leonard, that wasn’t afraid to shoot the ball. With players like Tony Parker and Tim Duncan garnering more attention on offense, Green has to be there to help counter double teams with lights-out perimeter shooting. He has done his part thus far and is setting a good role model for how role players should style themselves around stars. Let’s hope we see Green continue to assault the Miami defense, even though he isn’t wearing Wine and Gold anymore. Game 6 of the Finals will take place on Tuesday at 9 p.m., and I’m sure we’ll see Green on his game in such a pivotal contest.