Green’s game shrinks heat
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com June 11, 2013 10:25PM
Updated: June 12, 2013 8:26PM
SAN ANTONIO — Twice since 2010, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has called Danny Green into his office, and twice he’s cut him.
No more NBA dream, at least not with the Spurs.
“Lack of confidence,’’ the coach said.
Hard to tell Tuesday in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, as it was the twice-cut (three times if you include the Cleveland Cavaliers cutting him) Green who was the best player on the court, scoring 27 points in the 113-77 blowout by the Spurs. And with San Antonio up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, if Green continues to play like he has, he could very well be the Finals MVP.
That department didn’t seem to be lacking, as he sauntered up to the postgame podium, sat down, looked at the media and said very calmly, “’Sup.’’
Not the Heat, that’s for sure. They’re as down as they’ve been in two years when they seemed to shrink in the Finals against the Mavericks.
“Well, we got what we deserved tonight,’’ Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I didn’t recognize the team that was out there.’’
And no one recognizes the four-time MVP.
LeBron James was again very average with two points in the first quarter and 15 overall. For the first time this season, he didn’t have one trip to the free-throw line. He hasn’t had a 20-point game in the series and the defensive performances by Kawhi Leonard, along with Green, are big reasons why.
That’s what made Green’s offensive output more impressive. Forget the 9-for-15 shooting and 7-for-9 from beyond the three-point for Green, when Leonard wasn’t playing King Slayer on James, it was Green.
“We’ve done a great job helping each other, team defense,’’ Green said of stopping James. “We know what type of player LeBron is. He’s not at his best right now, missing a lot of shots he normally makes, but we know he’ll be back Game 4.’’
In Green’s mind, when the Spurs aren’t stopping James, he’s stopping himself.
“You guys have seen all year how he can perform,’’ Green said. “He’s not doing that right now. I don’t know what it is. I hope it doesn’t come out.’’
With the Spurs losing Tony Parker to a bad hamstring and a pending MRI deciding the rest of Parker’s series, the pressure will continue to fall on James.
In the past, pressure has not been his friend. It forced him out of Cleveland, shrunk him against Dallas.
How James responds the next few games will define his legacy, like it or not.
“He’ll figure it out,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James. “He always figures it out. We’ll work to make sure that he getting to places where he can be comfortable and confident.’’
Confidence? Maybe Green can help James in that confidence department.