Danny Green appeared to wrap up his lengthy postgame interview on NBATV, but he faced a couple more questions before he could leave the sweltering court.
“Do you guys have any extra towels we can borrow maybe?” Matt Winer asked. “We’ve got a show to get through.”
“They’re all wet towels, man, in the back,” Green said.
“Can I borrow that jump shot?” Thomas asked
“Psh, I need to find it again,” Green said.
All night, everyone kept asking more from Green. Finally he delivered.
After missing his first five shots, Green scored 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting in the final 6:07 of the Spurs’ 110-95 Game 1 win Thursday.
“I was pushing him hard,” Tony Parker said. “I don’t know if you saw, but every timeout, I was screaming at him and encourage him.”
When Green re-entered the game midway through the fourth quarter, eight of the other nine players on the court had played more than him. Perhaps, being a little more rested gave Green a significant advantage given the debilitating heat.
He certainly looked livelier than everyone else, at least.
Within a four-possession span, Green made two 3-pointers and dunked. Miami called timeout, but that didn’t cool Green, who made another 3-pointer after the break.
In a stat popularized by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, the Spurs are now 26-1 (.963) when Green makes three 3-pointers and 48-25 (.658) when he doesn’t.
Green isn’t elite, the type of player who can singlehandedly carry his team to victory. But his success is a significant indicator of the Spurs’ success. When they’re moving the ball and spacing the floor, it results in Green getting open looks from beyond the arc
All three of his Game 1 3-pointers were assisted, and that’s par for the course. Green relies on his teammates to set him up.
They rely on him to knock ‘em down – no matter how slowly he starts.
Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich see Green the same way, though – as they’re wont to do – they express it with very different degrees of warmth.
“Honestly, the way he shoots the ball, every time he shoots it, I expect it to go in,” Duncan said.
“That’s his major skill,” Popovich said. “If he’s not going to do that, then we might as well play somebody else. That’s the honest to God’s truth.”
Popovich turned to Green late, and Green responded. His second NBA Finals picked up where the first ended, but he didn’t let the wild swings in his production deter him.
Through five games of last year’s Finals, Green was a legitimate Finals MVP candidate. Then, he shot 1-for-7 in Game 6 and and 1-for-12 in Game 7, both San Antonio losses.
The Spurs were headed toward a third straight Finals loss to Miami, and though LeBron leaving the game carried more weight, Green ensured San Antonio took advantage.
“I told him after the game I was proud of him,” Parker said. “‘You have to keep playing. You’re a young player, and you’re going to get a lot of ups and downs. And that’s going to show your character.’ And tonight, he stuck with it.”