Both Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard aren’t All-Star players. Leonard should be, maybe even next season, but sometimes in the near future. Green? Unlikely, but for one night, the two of them combined for a devastating performance that led the San Antonio Spurs to an impressive win over the Miami Heat, taking the lead in the NBA Finals once again.
Leonard scored 29 points on 10-of-13 from the field. Danny Green scored 15 on 7-of-8 from the field. Both of them made things very difficult for the Heat on defense, as Green finished with 5 steals while Leonard had two steals, two blocks and an excellent overall night of slowing down LeBron James, something he failed to do in the first two games of the series and sorely needed this one as a pick me up.
Leonard isn’t a player who seems to be exploding with confidence and ego. That’s not how Popovich likes his players. He seems shy and a bit out of place when interviewed. It’s not for him, at least not right now, being in the spotlight. He’s just out there doing his job, and developing at an alarming rate for all those who were waiting for the great San Antonio team to sink as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili got older.
Danny Green is even further away from stardom, despite his tendency to show up in certain NBA Finals game. Last year demonstrated him at his best – when left open for 3’s, and at his worst – when not left open to shoot. The Heat understood that, and it took Green almost a year to show the world he has a lot more in his offensive arsenal that waiting for someone to find him on the perimeter and knocking down open shots.
Green scored 15 points but only made one 3-pointer. The rest was him stealing the ball and taking it to the rim. We haven’t seen this Danny Green before; a strong finisher near the basket, who isn’t afraid of attacking the paint and using his length not only to deny passes and steal balls, but actually finish against very good defenders. Next time he does it, it won’t be such a surprise. Quite an advancement for a player who was cut by the Spurs twice in the past before finally getting them to commit to him.
The Heat can’t guard everyone and have to make concessions when defending a talented and deep team like the Spurs. But letting Leonard and Green go off like this was part of some very lazy and sloppy passing on offense and the same goes for some of their defending, especially in that record-shattering first half as the Spurs simply couldn’t and wouldn’t miss. If Green and Leonard match the point total of James and Wade, it says a lot about how bad the Miami Heat were in the game 3 loss, and how far along the Spurs’ duo have come in recent years.