The bright lights of a first NBA Finals can often prove to be too much for a young player, something that seemed evident when James Harden faced the Miami Heat last season. That has not been the case for Danny Green, who has burned the Heat time and time again in his first Finals appearance.
Green continued his remarkable shooting display in the Spurs' 114-104 Game 5 victory over the Heat, scoring 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 6-of-10 from three. Green's fourth three of the game in the third quarter gave him 23 for the series, which broke Ray Allen's previous NBA Finals record of 22 3-point makes in a series, a fact that Green didn't even realize at the time.
"I had no idea," Green said. "After the game today, I found out. I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to be on this stage. My teammates have done a great job of finding me and getting me open. Seems everything is going right for me. I'm feeling truly blessed right now. It's got to be a higher power. The basketball gods are in our favor right now."
Following his 6-of-10 effort on Sunday, Green is now 25-of-38 from three in the series, which is good for 65.8 percent. This has been a breakout series in a season that has seen Green become a permanent member of San Antonio's starting lineup, which is impressive considering he was in the D-League just two years ago.
"The whole season has made him more confident," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's somebody who has gotten a lot of minutes. He basically has the green light. When you do it for 82 games, the last thing to see is if he can do it when the real lights are on. He's certainly answered that question."
Green has made some tough shots in the series, but many of his makes have been wide open looks. Green is 18-of-24 on open threes in the series according to ESPN Stats & Info, and the fact that he continues to get such open looks is something Tony Parker "can't believe" is still happening this late in the series. Needless to say, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is none too pleased with how often Green has been open.
"It's something that we have to correct," Spoelstra said. "We've just got to do it better, do it harder, be more committed. He's making some open looks and some contested looks. But the open looks are the one's that are killing us."
The Heat must make adjustments on Green to eliminate some of those open looks, although that could leave them even more vulnerable to the plethora of other weapons for San Antonio. Parker pointed out that not everybody can be stopped, so it's pretty much a pick-your-poison for Miami.
Green is currently averaging 18 points per game in the series, and in addition to his hot shooting, he has also played stellar defense on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. If the Spurs go on to win the title, Green may be the front-runner for Finals MVP, which isn't too shabby for a guy who used to be known more for his dancing ability rather than his ability on the basketball court.
However, Green knows that he and San Antonio can't revel in their success, and getting that last victory in Miami will prove to be extremely tough.
"We'll reflect back and let it hit us when it's over," Green said. "We still have a lot more work to do. There's still some business to be done. We have to carry it out and finish it.
"It's going to take everything we've got. We know how good they are. We know how aggressive they come back, especially from a loss. The whole world knows how they're going to bounce back. It's going to be tough, especially in their home building. We've got to be on point."
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