- Series Hub: Spurs-Heat
SAN ANTONIO – There was a reaction shot of Miami’s Ray Allen floating around the Internet within minutes of Danny Green‘s fourth 3-point field goal Sunday in Game 5 of the 2013 Finals at the AT&T Center.
It showed Allen — the NBA’s all-time 3-point champion and, until Sunday, the record holder for most “makes” from distance in a Finals series — rubbing his head and grimacing immediately after Green’s 3-pointer in transition put the Spurs up 66-60 at 9:40 of the third quarter.
Allen’s sour reaction had everything to do with Miami’s defense leaving Green unguarded yet again and little or nothing to do with the fact that it was Green’s 23rd 3-pointer of the series, which meant it was Allen’s record of 22 got eclipsed.
But the juxtaposition just added heft to what Green has been doing in this championship series, from its opening tip to San Antonio’s wire-to-wire 114-104 victory in Game 5 for a 3-2 edge.
A second-round draft pick, a scrub on LeBron James‘ last Cleveland team, a fellow who was cut twice by the Spurs before wising up and talking his way into another chance, has been pummeling the NBA’s defending champs at a record pace, right in the grill of the league’s 3-point king. Allen, who ranks No. 1 both in 3-pointers taken and made over his 17-year career, hit 22 of his 42 shots while spotted around the arc in the 2008 Finals for the Boston Celtics. That series lasted six games.
Green already has hit 25 on 38 attempts, and this one’s just five games old.
“Whether it’s this series or the last series or the series before, you need somebody to get hot and somebody to get lucky,” Green said, unable to suppress a smile as he closed out the postgame podium programming. “One night it will be Gary [Neal], the next night it will be Manu [Ginobili] and the next night it will be me.”
It has been Green every night so far in the series. That 25-for-38 success rate is 65.8 percent, and the coldest or unluckiest Green has been in any of the five games was in the opener (4-for-9). He was 7-for-9 in the Spurs’ Game 3 blowout victory and, after a 3-for-5 performance in their Game 4 loss, doubled up to go 6-for-10 against a team that values lethal perimeter shooting like few others.
Usually, coach Erik Spoelstra is on the other side of barrages such as Green’s. “That will be something that we have to correct,” he said, “and we’ve just got to do it better. Got to do it harder and be more committed. He’s getting some open looks and he’s making some contested looks. But the open looks are the ones that are killing us.”
At one point in Sunday’s game, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told him he didn’t care how many shots the surprise marksman took. Here he is, first Finals, and already the kid’s name is Danny Green (Light).
“The whole season has made him more confident,” Popovich said of Green, whose 3-point attempts jumped from 234 in 2011-12 to 413 this season. “He’s been somebody that has gotten a lot of minutes, basically has a green light and when you do it for 82 games, the only thing left is to see if you do it when the real lights come on come playoff time.
“He’s pretty well answered that question.”
That has led to another one, one that could turn The Finals: Why isn’t Miami taking him away as such a deadly Spurs threat?
“I can’t believe he’s still open at this moment of this series,” teammate Tony Parker said. “They are still trapping me and doubling Timmy [Duncan], and Danny is wide open. If you’re going to leave Danny wide open, he’s going to make threes.”
OK, Heatles, why is Green doing what he’s doing?
“This is the kind of team that I feel capitalizes on any mistake you make,” Dwyane Wade said. “So if you’re a half-second late, they capitalize on it.”
Wade talked of Miami losing track of Green in transition; the Spurs push the ball, the Heat defenders backpedal and suddenly Green pops up in one of the corners before anyone can close out on him. Also, Parker’s penetration is forcing Miami to prioritize; it protects the paint and multiple perimeter shooters come open like buoys at low tide.
On the one that took Allen’s record, Green raced up and down the court in a frenzy, eager to make up for his forced pass to Duncan. He helped Ginobili get the ball away from Wade, then nailed the 3-pointer as if to make up for the turnover.
On his fifth 3-pointer that made it 78-74 late in the third, both Wade and Shane Battier lunged at him an instant too late.
“It is fun for it to go in and see the team’s reaction sometimes,” Green admitted.
Said Wade: “Give him credit, man. He’s knocking them down.”
A year ago, things were different. Green shot 4-for-23 from the arc (17.4 percent) in the West finals against Oklahoma City and got bumped from the starting lineup by Ginobili. Ginobili made a triumphant return to a starting spot Sunday, but Green had much to do with putting the triumph in it.
“He’s been unbelievable. Especially on this stage,” Duncan said. “We’re asking him to defend Dwyane Wade and LeBron and all these guys. He’s got a lot on his shoulders and he’s stepped up and answered the bell. I hope he doesn’t wake up.”
Said Parker: “You can’t stop everything. … If they’re going to still trap me and make sure I don’t get off or Timmy, I want to say, ‘Keep shooting, Danny.’ “
He might as well, with a couple of targets remaining that probably look as big and inviting as the industrial-sized rims at which he’s been shooting.
The NBA record for 3-pointers in a playoff series, any round, is 28. It’s shared by Allen, from his 28-of-55 long-distance performance for Milwaukee against Philadelphia back in the 2001 Eastern Conference finals, and Dennis Scott, who shot 28-of-65 in the East finals against Indiana in 1995.
Both of those series went seven games. If Green were to fall short of 28 for lack of a seventh game in this series, odds are he’d be fine with that.