The San Antonio Spurs hope to ride big performances from stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili to another NBA Finals appearance. The team, however, is getting some production from a fourth key player in shooting guard Danny Green.
Green’s name isn’t a new one since he’s been in the league for five seasons now. He first emerged in the playoffs last year. In particular, he became a viable three-point success, knocking down 55 of them in only 21 postseason games. Green knocked down three-pointers during last year’s regular season, but was far more efficient in the playoffs, making nearly 50 percent of those shots. After connecting on 25 of them through the first five games of the championship round against the Heat, he was even a viable candidate to win the Finals MVP Award.
For most of this year’s playoffs, Green hasn’t been nearly as effective. Against the Mavericks, he played strong in Games 6 and 7, helping the Spurs to ultimately win the series. In the first five games, though, he struggled mightily, averaging only a little more than three points per contest. In the next series against Portland, Green’s scoring picked up but his accuracy slid as he made only 1/3 of his three-point attempts — significantly below his season average.
Lately, though, Green has been on a tear.
Things started with the final game of the series against the Trail Blazers. Playing a postseason-high 35 minutes, the guard scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds. The 4-of-6 he shot beyond the arc was a sign of things to come.
Against the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, Green has continued his hot shooting. In Game 1, he made six of his seven shots (including four of his five three-pointers) from the field in helping the Spurs to a blowout 122-105 win. He was arguably even better in Game 2 when he followed that performance with a perfect one from three-point range. All seven of his shots from the field were three-pointers and he made each one, scoring 21 points.
Green is contributing defensively, too. Through the first two games, he already has piled up five steals. He had exactly that many in each of the entire series against Dallas and Portland.
The Spurs are a dangerous team with their big three of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili. If Green continues playing like this, though, they’ll be unstoppable. It’s easy to attribute the Spurs’ success to the Thunder’s lack of Serge Ibaka. However, San Antonio is just playing incredible basketball right now and are a cut above with Green playing well.
Conversely, Green was also part of the reason the Spurs couldn’t top Miami last year despite having a 3-2 series lead. Green completely disappeared in Games 6 and 7, shooting a ridiculous 2-19 from the floor. The result? Two Miami wins by a total of ten points. Even a modest contribution by Green could have resulted in the Spurs winning the championship.
Simply put, despite San Antonio’s easy wins so far in the Western Conference Finals, the team likely will need him to win it all. After a somewhat slow start in the postseason, he’s starting to heat up at precisely the right time.