How Danny Green Helped the Spurs Win a Pivotal Game 3
Following the Spurs’ historic first-half performance in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, and Kawhi Leonard's acclaimed and efficient 29-point performance to help lead the way, Danny Green's combination of both defense and scoring proficiency from inside the arc seems to have fallen between the cracks.
No question, Leonard was off the charts. Known more for his defensive prowess, Leonard knocked down 50 percent of his shots from long range, missed only three jumpers from the field and added two steals and a pair of blocks to propel the Spurs to 71 points in the first half, and ultimately a decisive Game 3 victory.
And right about there is where we forget about Green. Because in the first half of Tuesday night’s game, Green scored 13 of his 15 total points, also helping to push the Spurs up early - providing the margin necessary to cool off in the third quarter, yet still be able to close a game by 19 points.
Green was automatic in the first half, hitting the same number of field goals as Leonard (6), despite playing nearly eight fewer minutes. He also knocked down his only three-point shot of the game in the first half, making Green’s scoring production for the night a bit rare given his preferred method of letting it fly from deep. Through the first eight quarters of the Finals, 68 percent of Green’s points had come on shots from beyond the arc. On Tuesday night, 12 of his 15 points came from inside the paint.
Even more impressive than his scoring efficiency was Green’s defense and hustle. Although the Heat’s carelessness with the basketball didn’t help their chances of rebounding against a red-hot Spurs squad, Green was a large part of the cause. Green’s three steals in the first half worked to put the Heat on edge, while his total by game’s end accounted for a quarter of Miami’s 20 turnovers on the night.
Was it a coincidence Green wandered inside the three-point line and the Spurs made with it a remarkable first half? Probably. In fact, yes - sheer coincidence. But Green’s play certainly contributed to the Spurs’ undeniable 75.8% shooting from the floor in the first half and the substantial victory. And according to Basketball Reference, his 83 rating on defense was the lowest of any player in this series by a country mile.
So while Leonard’s game deservingly receives all the praise, Green warrants a nod too for being comparatively efficient in a pivotal game in the Spurs’ quest for the title.