Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – During the NBA Finals, one player often has to step up in a big way for his team to eventually hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy into the air. For the San Antonio Spurs, the player who has stepped up hasn’t been Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli or Tony Parker; instead, it’s been Danny Green.
It’s not a surprise if you haven’t heard of Green until now as he has erupted as the hottest shooter in the 2013 NBA Finals.
Green has been cut multiple times by the Spurs and by the Cavaliers. Coming out of college, he had played four years for the North Carolina Tar Heels, but only averaged 9.4 points on 45 percent shooting per game while also grabbing an average of 4.1 rebounds.
His career high in points at North Carolina was just 26 points against Division II Chaminade.
But in a feat that makes sports so grand, Green has put it altogether against arguably the best team in the league at the most critical time.
Green only averaged 10.5 points per game this season and against the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals he only put up 8.8 points per game. Then the Miami Heat rolled into town and Green hasn’t been able to miss.
Green is playing 34 minutes per game in the NBA Finals and any time the Spurs need a big basket to shut down a Heat run, Green has been able to put a stake in the heart of the Heat with a big three-point basket.
In the Finals, Green is averaging 18 points per game and in the Spurs’ most recent wins, he’s went for 24 points in Game 5 and 27 points in Game 6. Plus, he’s doing it all while shooting nearly 70 percent from behind the three-point line.
Even if the Heat manage to come back and win the NBA championship, barring an other-worldly performance by a Heat player in Games 6 & 7, Green has made the strongest case for Finals MVP of any player on the floor.
Green has also broken the record of most three-point shots made in an NBA Finals with one game still to go. Green, incidentally, broke the record held by Miami Heat guard Ray Allen. Green has hit 25 of his 38 three-point attempts thus far.
If Miami wants to win Game 6, the formula is simple: limit Manu Ginobli and find a way to get Green out of his comfort zone. Otherwise, Green will continue to shoot the lights out of Miami’s championship dreams.