NBA Finals

Spurs' Danny Green unlikely NBA Finals MVP?

By Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun

Spurs guard Danny Green drives past Heat guard Dwyane Wade during Game 4 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, June 13, 2013. (LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters)

Spurs guard Danny Green drives past Heat guard Dwyane Wade during Game 4 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, June 13, 2013. (LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters)


Before the NBA Finals began, Danny Green wasn’t even really on the board as a potential series MVP.

Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard were, but Green, cast aside in Cleveland and even by the Spurs multiple times, was lumped in with “Any other Spurs player” at 30-1 odds.

Now he’s 2-1, with either one or two games remaining in this NBA season.

This series has been anything but easy to predict, but Green’s ascension has definitely been the least-expected occurrence.

Sure, Green had an elite 42.9% shooting percentage from three during the regular season, but he only nailed about two a contest.

Now he’s averaged five made threes on 7.6 attempts in the Finals — that’s about two makes for every three shots he flings — and, with up to two contests remaining, Green has already eclipsed Ray Allen’s league record of 22 made threes in a Finals.

It’s a remarkable story. And one that doesn’t happen often.

Finals MVPs tend to be superstars — Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron, Duncan — or at the least, all-stars such as Chauncey Billups, Joe Dumars, or James Worthy.

But Danny Green? This is a bizarre development.

Green, not even a starter most of his time at North Carolina, an NBA Development League mainstay and former overseas player since he couldn’t stick around in the league once upon a time, is taking it all rather well. And very humbly.

“I’ve been getting lucky. I was moving around a lot. Our transition helps us, our pace. Tony penetrating and Manu penetrating, making the defence collapse is the reason why I’ve been getting open. Luckily a couple have dropped for me,” he said Sunday night.

“All I have to do is play good defence and run the floor and spot up, and they’ll find me. A lot of times they’ll penetrate, drag in some defenders. Sometimes I’ll move around a little bit and they’ll locate and find me.

“Right now everything is working well for me.”

Green said his struggles in the Western Conference final last year helped him mature and prepared him to step up now.

His defence got him on the court, his shooting allowed him to stay there for the Spurs.

“The whole season has made him more confident,” explained Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

“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 playoffs time. He’s pretty well answered that question.”

Has he ever.

Green said playing against stars such as Allen, now on Miami, has been surreal enough. Beating one of his records? Nearly unforeseeable.

Green doesn’t want this run to end and neither does Duncan.

“He’s been unbelievable. Especially on this stage ... 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 and keeps playing this way.”

Miami’s hope is quite different — that Green finally cools down.

It starts defensively. The threat of Parker penetrating and a failure to fight through screens is hampering the team’s ability to stick with Green.

“The open looks are just killing us. That will be something that we have to correct and just do it better — do it harder and be more committed,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.

“Not many guys have shot the ball this well, especially in the Finals, that I can remember,” added Wade.

“We do have to do a better job like we did in Game 4 of knowing where the shooters are at all times. He got away from us a few times (Sunday).”

And during the other four games as well.

Either the Heat adjusts, or Green probably walks away as perhaps the unlikeliest Finals MVP ever.


If Doc Rivers heads to the Los Angeles Clippers as rumoured, nearly half of the NBA’s 30 teams will have a new coach next season.

Should Rivers return to L.A., where he once played, 13 bench bosses — seven from playoff teams, including coach of the year George Karl in Denver — would be in charge of new squads.

The last two coaches standing, not surprisingly, are rather displeased with the development.

Gregg Popovich has been running the Spurs for 17 seasons now — he’s the longest-tenured coach in U.S. pro sports — and if Rivers departs Boston, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, in his fifth season, would be behind only Popovich on the NBA longevity list.

“I think it’s really a shame for the profession of coaching that it’s been so volatile. But I’m also very grateful that our organization doesn’t behave in that manner,” Spoelstra was saying the other day, adding it’s no coincidence the Spurs and Heat are the league’s standard-bearers.

“I mean, we see it differently. True success in the NBA you must have consistency of culture. When you see that type of turnover over and over and over, it’s impossible to create any kind of sustainable consistent culture.”

Popovich weighed in as well.

“I think that in some cases one might surmise that some owners think it’s easier than it really is,” he said.

“It’s very difficult. And when things don’t happen quickly, I think some owners become frustrated. Some even take it personally, I believe. Almost like a little bit of an embarrassment because they’ve been so successful in their own way and have a hard time understanding this business.

“But the change, change, change, change, change thing doesn’t really work. You can see that in a lot of organizations.”

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