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Danny Green takes NBA Finals 3-point record, NBA Finals MVP award next?

Jun 17, 2013, 1:28 AM EDT

Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game 5 Getty Images

Danny Green rose for his 33rd 3-point attempt of the 2013 NBA Finals, and for the 23rd time, the ball splashed through the net.

On cue, the Heat called timeout, creating a scene similar baseball’s game stoppages to honor broken records.

Green – who broke the record for 3-pointers in an NBA Finals and would push the the mark to 25 (on 38 attempts) by the end of the Spurs’ 114-104 Game 5 victory – clapped his hands and screamed, and then he headed to the bench for pats on the back from teammates and coaches.

Ray Allen, who saw his record of 22 3-pointers in the 2008 Finals broken, sat on the Miami bench and made no attempts to hide the disgust pouring over his face.

Green had never made this many 3-pointers in a five-game stretch, though he’d played just 106 games entering the Finals, because he was too busy getting cut by the Cavaliers, Spurs and Spurs again. Yet, this passionate mid-game celebration was all about him.

This is the awesomeness of Danny Green, the hottest player on the biggest stage.

But what happened in the moments preceding his record-breaking trey show the full story of Danny Green, the reason we can witness his awesomeness.

Dwyane Wade pushed the ball upcourt, and Green caught him from behind. With Green hounding Wade, Manu Ginobili poked the ball loose, getting credit for the steal when Green dove to the floor to corral the ball. Green passed from his back to Ginobli, and the Spurs surged the other direction.

Green momentarily stumbled over Wade as he tried to get up, but Green still reached his feet first. Again, Green raced down the floor quicker and was wide open as the trailer, Wade still languishing in the distance, on the record-breaking triple.

That is why Green, whom Gregg Popovich cut for a failure to bring consistent effort, is playing for the Spurs. It’s also why Green is in the driver’s seat to become the most unlikely NBA Finals MVP ever.

Green found a team that embraces his biggest strength, 3-point shooting. Not long ago, progressive teams tolerated 3-point shots. Popovich seeks 3-pointers and their and the 50 percent more points they produce than other makes.

But Popovich also wouldn’t tolerate Green’s effort lapses, and Green didn’t even get even a guaranteed roster spot until he solved those issues. With the help of his former North Carolina coach, Roy Williams, Green did that.

Now, Green leads the Spurs, who hold a 3-2 series advantage, in scoring by nine points. Because the Spurs’ traditionally recognized stars – Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili – have been up and down, there’s no clear-cut choice for Finals MVP if San Antonio hangs on. But 28 of the last 30 Finals MVPs led the winning team in scoring,* so Green is certainly on track to get consideration from the voters who prefer simple measures.

*Chauncey Billups (2004) and Larry Bird (1986) being the exceptions.

The voters who take a deeper examination will see Green’s hustle plays and helpful defense on LeBron James, which might be enough of a complement to Green’s 3-point shooting and earn him the award if Duncan, Parker or Ginobili doesn’t overtake him the rest of the series.

Of course, the Heat can still win, or perhaps, voters could reward the player who’s had the best series so far – LeBron – even though a player on the losing team hasn’t wont Finals MVP since Jerry West took the inaugural award in 1969.

At minimum, Green is planted firmly in the conversation. If the Finals ended today, he would get my hypothetical vote ahead of any Spur (though I would vote for LeBron).

Only great teams reach the NBA Finals, and greats teams are usually led by great players. Finals MVPs are typically the best of the best, perhaps creating an even better list of the game’s best than regular-season MVPs. All but three* of 45 Finals MVP awards have gone to Hall of Famers (Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Dennis Johnson, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Jo Jo White, Rick Barry, John Havlicek, Willis Reed, Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West) or sure-fire future Hall of Famers (LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal).

*Chauncey Billups, Cedric Maxwell and Jo Jo White being the exceptions.

Green is not a Hall of Famer or a sure-fire future Hall of Famer, but he’s also not just the novelty who made 5-of-5 3-pointers in Game 2. He airballed a 3-pointer early in Game 5, shook it off and finished 6-for-10 from beyond the arc, still lowering his Finals 3-point percentage.

He’s playing with supreme confidence and forcing the basketball world to take notice.

Undoubtedly, part of Green’s stirring Finals is a run of good fortune, a hot streak coming at the most opportune time. Green could turn into a pumpkin at any moment.

But even if that happens and his 3-point shooting goes cold, you can still count on Green beating the Heat for loose balls and beating them downcourt.

Green’s 3-point shooting is why you’re noticing him, but his hustle is why he’s here.

Both explain why he’s suddenly the front-runner for Finals MVP.

  1. bucrightoff - Jun 17, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    You didn’t seriously say LeBron is having the best series of anyone did you? He’s scored below his average 4 out of 5, way below in 3 out of 5, and has 1 game where he shot over 43%. Any chance to get into the MJ conversation is now gone. The guy who’s terrorizing him, Kawhi Leonard, is more of an MVP in these Finals than LeBron.

    • pdub923 - Jun 17, 2013 at 2:51 AM

      Ha. Yeah, I had to scroll up to see if I was actually reading an article by Kurt!

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 17, 2013 at 4:55 AM

      He’s so overrated it’s funny. Now 8-12 in the Finals? Michael won 6 rings & only lost 11 games overall. Michael averaged 33.6 ppg in the Finals, LeBron 22. Michael only scored under 30 twice. LeBron scored under 20, 6 times! There is no comparison. LeBron can never, ever be like Mike.

      • Arun Krishnan - Jun 17, 2013 at 6:07 AM

        Forget the Jordan comparison.

        Duncan, Kobe and Shaq are the 3 greatest players in the post Jordan world. LeBron is probably the most physically talented player ever to play, or at least up there with Wilt. That’s not how greatness as a basketball player is typically measured though.

        LeBron should still add more championships, you would think. Can’t be certain though, Wade is only going to continue to slip, even LeBron is at his prime now and probably not going to improve. Ray Allen isn’t going to get any better, and the Heat are, as a team, probably going to hold steady or go backwards in the next couple of years. Meanwhile the Pacers will be better next year with Granger, Thunder will be better once Westbrook is back and as Reggie Jackson continues to develop…

        Certainly, it doesn’t seem likely that Lebron will end up with 5 or 6 championships. Considering he packed up and moved to Miami to form a dream team, I can’t imagine winning 2 or 3 will elevate him above Duncan, Kobe, or Shaq, can it? In which case there really shouldn’t be Jordan comparisons.

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jun 17, 2013 at 8:41 AM

        Stop comparing can do that once he retires..

        I would like people to make valid points on why he sucks beside statistical stats to Jordan..

        Bill Russell>Michael Jordan

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jun 17, 2013 at 9:02 AM

        Also lebron has a better boards and assists average than jordan

        He also shoots, better from the field than Jordan

        Mj shot like 41 percent vs in,more than one finas series.

        He averaged more pts because he shot the hell out of the ball unlike bron.

        And oh yeah, jordan had pippin, rodamn kerr(who hit a huge gamewinner) koukos who was sixth man if the year horace grant, phil jackson, and others.

  2. ruimigueldarmindo - Jun 17, 2013 at 5:44 AM

    I like reading Dan. Having said that, I have to add that I find this article disrespectful. For any player in this AMAZING Spurs team and specially for every great performances by players in the losing teams of NBA finals series.
    Lebron is a great player, I’m no hater. He’s one of the best. I’m not talking MJ comparisons or anything. I’m talking THIS series.
    How could anyone say, having watched all five games, that if the season had been won yesterday by the Spurs he’d have been the most valuable?
    I really don’t understand, sorry…

  3. gmsingh123 - Jun 17, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    The only thing LeBron does that Michael didn’t is assists. And yet comparing him to Magic doesn’t make him look good either. Anyway, the Spurs games are such a team effort that picking an MVP is difficult. So far I think Parker is the most important guy for them to win, but last night Ginobli and Green were right up there too. Can Popovich be MVP?

  4. bigbluebob - Jun 17, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    Win or lose, Green deserves the MVP..That kid is putting on a clinic.

  5. gpatrick15 - Jun 17, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    “At minimum, Green is planted firmly in the conversation. If the Finals ended today, he would get my hypothetical vote ahead of any Spur (though I would vote for LeBron).”

    And what, might I ask, has LeBron done to warrant him winning Finals MVP for a losing squad (if, as you say, the series ended today)? His series hasn’t been THAT good. It’s not like he’s out there playing like Jerry West did in 69. You’re voting for him on namesake alone. Danny Green has done more for the Spurs this series than LeBron has for the Heat. Period.

  6. robones - Jun 17, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I am a Heat fan but if the Heat win, no one in the Heat roster deserves the MVP honors. Danny Green is seriously playing out of this planet. He is a video game out there. Win or Lose, Danny Green deserves the MVP Honors.

  7. cantonbound13 - Jun 17, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    If LeBron was shooting like Green, Kurt would have 20 stories about it by now.

  8. vader3234 - Jun 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Gotta love Ray Allen sitting on the BENCH! Bench Rida Ray.

  9. micahpiercy - Jun 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Hard work pays off. Way to go Danny!!!

  10. true15 - Jun 17, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    did anyone see Ray Allen face when Green broke his record hahah. break the man record when he was planning on retiring.

  11. silencegooddoer - Jun 17, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Regardless of the team you are cheering for; moments like these when an under-rated or less-known player steps up on a big stage is just awesome to witness. It is the real magic of sports! Hats off to Danny Green! Thank you for the great performance to enjoy!

  12. harshedmellow - Jun 17, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Green has certainly been the most impactful in a wild-card kind of way. Spoelstra seems to be using a “but it has to stop SOMETIME!” defense on him.

    SA in 6, or Heat in 7. If Green rains the pain in Game 6 I think the Heat will wilt in Game 6, similar to how they did with Dallas. If the Heat win Game 6 they’ll roll in Game 7. So say I.

  13. gpatrick15 - Jun 17, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    “At minimum, Green is planted firmly in the conversation. If the Finals ended today, he would get my hypothetical vote ahead of any Spur (though I would vote for LeBron).”

    And what, might I ask, has LeBron done to warrant him winning Finals MVP for a losing squad (if, as you say, the series ended today)? His series hasn’t been THAT good. It’s not like he’s out there playing like Jerry West did in 69. You’re voting for him on namesake alone. Danny Green has done more for the Spurs this series than LeBron has for the Heat. Period.

  14. pistolpete0903 - Jun 17, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Could we wait until the Finals are over?
    Going by the trend in the series so far,looks like the Heat will blow out the Spurs in Game 6.
    Fellas, brace for Game 7!!!
    And adios Herr Stern (you get your wish)

  15. atahualpaoxford - Jun 17, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    I’m very curious as to why Dan Feldman would include both Tony Parker and Tim Duncan as sure-fire future Hall of Famers, and yet leave out Manu Ginobili out of the list…
    And yes, I’m aware of the fact that he has not contributed much in this series, outside of game 5.
    But, still…out of the list…???

    • savvybynature - Jun 17, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      Manu is without a dount a sure-fire HoFer. Many people don’t realize (though I’d hope Feldman does) that the basketball HoF is an international HoF.
      Manu has contributed a ton to international hoops, from leading Argentina to an improbably gold medal, to being the first player to win gold, a Euro Championship and an NBA Championship, to his all-star play in the NBA.
      In fact, when you look at the entire body of work, Manu probably has a better resume than Parker at this point.

  16. laserw - Jun 17, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    How would LeBrick win MVP? He is not consistent – his presence makes almost no impact on the outcome of any game – he continues to underwhelm in the playoffs. He is a poor free-throw maker. And he has no leadership skills. He is first and foremost a selfish, hype generator that does not make anyone around him better. And not once has he stepped up in the Finals to prove he deserves even being a footnote in the series.

  17. ans2034 - Jun 17, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    I thought this article was about Green and how he’s making a strong push for NBA Finals MVP yet I see Lebron all over this….why? I am begining to wonder if Dan are Lebron are related???

    Give credit where its due, Green came to play, pure and simple. He’s been a rock for the Spurs . He’s been shooting the lights out like he’s teaching a 3 point clinic. I am glad to see his confidence high and the support of the Spurs behind him. He’s worked hard for this and I’m glad its paying off.

    Now Dan for your Lebron talk:
    Let’s call a spade a spade, Lebron has been mediocre at best this series. He’s a good player but has missed alot of opportunities to play better and rally his team. I am not saying he’s the only leader and person responsible for this but I am pointing out the obvious.
    Basketball 101 – If you can’t score, then put your teammates in scoring positions (pass the ball) find easier ways to score (steals, fast breaks) etc. Not keep shooting from the outside and taking hard or stupid shots. Lebron needs to do this- complaining will only get you so far.

    • Kurt Helin - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      21.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 2.2 steals a game is mediocre?

      • ans2034 - Jun 18, 2013 at 9:16 PM

        If you’re the leader and the main go-to guy on your team it is.

        Is this another one of Lebron’s brothers? Maybe uncle?

  18. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 18, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    It would be hypocritical for Green to not like getting the MVP honors.

    But seriously, if you know the Spurs, they don’t give a rat’s glutes who gets the MVP plum. Meaning, Green won’t deliberately be aiming for MVP… just like Tim, Tony, and Manu.

    The Spurs and the Pistons’04 are a joy to watch especially since their play is so much blue-collared. For some reason all you hard-working no none-sense dudes out there can relate to them. Being small market even magnifies the charm as opposed to all the glitz and glamour of other teams. Mind, I ain’t dissing the Lakers with that comment of mine. Just saying that my appreciation for the Spurs is much different yet somewhat of almost the near level as that of the Lakers franchise. And I’m saying this with much respect to both teams.

    A friend of mine once asked me why the respect for the team that stopped the Lakers from getting a four-peat in ’03. He said I should be hating them.

    My answer is simple: I’m an NBA fan. I appreciate the greatness of other teams.

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