With the San Antonio Spurs ahead 3-2 in the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat, it’s safe to begin looking at who a potential Finals MVP for the series could be if the Spurs win the title in six or seven games, or the Heat force a seventh game and win the championship.
The numbers provided below come from NBA.com/stats are only taken from the averages through the five NBA Finals games.
If the Spurs win the Championship
Danny Green: 18 points (10.6 FGA), 66% shooting from 3-point range, 1.6 blocks
“Danny Shoot Ball” is what Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said about Green back in early January, and that’s exactly what Green’s continued to do at an even higher rate through five games in the Finals.
Green is scoring the most points per game for the Spurs and producing on both ends of the floor. It’s not just that Green’s the type of player who floats around the perimeter. He’s constantly moving baseline to baseline to lose his defender and he’s also working hard on offense to get himself in position to receive a pass in catch-and-shoot position. And even though Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich joked about his dribbling ability on Sunday after Game 5, Green has been able to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim with floaters or layups at times in the series.
Defensively, he also has to guard two of the Heat’s best players on the floor at different times in games, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Where Green’s defense has been superb is in transition when Wade and James have had him on the break - and Green’s disrupted some of their attempts in the open court.
If the Spurs end up winning the title and Green hits about four to five more 3-pointers, his new nickname should become “consistency.” Green not only broke Ray Allen’s Finals MVP record which was 22, but he’s now four 3-pointers away from breaking the All-time 3-point playoff record set by Allen at 28 when he was with the Milwaukee Bucks early in his career.
Tony Parker: 16.2 points, 6.6 assists, 49% shooting from the field
Parker’s goal is always to be a 50% shooter from the field. If he has an effective shooting night to close the series, he could get his shooting percentage right where he wants to be.
Even though Green is scoring the most points in the series of any Spurs player, Parker needs to be credited because if it wasn’t for him sucking in the Heat defense from dribble penetration and finding Green open on the arc, Green wouldn’t be getting those 11 shots per game, a chunk of them wide open.
What hurts Parker in this series are the turnovers (2.6 per game) and also his inconsistency in the games where Miami’s hounding defense took away a lot of the Spurs’ pick-and-roll options in Games 2 and 4. Though it wasn’t his fault, Parker also had the hamstring injury affect his play in Game 4 as it led him to fatigue in the second half after a strong start.
Parker said his hamstring could tear at any point during the series. So if the Spurs go on to win the title, just remember that Parker was risking his health just to get his team the ultimate prize. That’s worth a mention for Finals MVP candidacy.
Tim Duncan: 15.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 46% shooting
Though they’re not “Roy Hibbert” numbers (22 points, 10 rebounds), Duncan has been productive in the series. Duncan’s biggest attribute is that he’s the anchor on the defensive end and also a solid secondary option on offense. Duncan has had his way with Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, and really exploited the Heat’s smaller players when they’re matched up on him with dunks or drop offs over them.
Even though the Heat’s defense isn’t giving him time or letting his teammates give him his usual jump shot from the elbow, he’s continuing to establish his position in the post and work from inside the paint.
Defensively, he’s been huge in being the second line of defenders that supports Kawhi Leonard, Green, and Boris Diaw any time Wade or James gets past them and tries to attack the paint. James and Wade know that even if they beat their defender with a crossover, Duncan will be waiting for them in the paint. Duncan’s also been matched up on Chris Bosh, and he’s held Bosh to less than 15 points and less than 10 rebounds per game.
If the Heat win the Championship
LeBron James: 21.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.2 steals, 1 block
Compared to his playoff averages prior to the Finals, James is averaging more rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in the Finals. However, the Spurs have really had an impact on his scoring and comfort areas on the floor.
James is down from 26 points per game on 51% shooting before playing the Spurs to 22 points on 44% shooting. The defense of Leonard, Green, Diaw, and the support of the help the whole team is providing is forcing James to take 20 shots from the field for his 22 points.
Another words, if the Heat do comeback to win the series, James will win the Finals MVP more by default than having an incredible series by his usual standards.
Dwayne Wade: 20 points, 5.4 assists, 2.4 steals, 1 block
If you throw out games 1-3, Wade has arguably been the better player for Miami offensively. He’s been attacking the hole and finding ways to penetrate the Spurs’ defense. But like James, Wade needs 18 shots to score his 20 points and is shooting 48% from the field.
On the defensive end, both Wade and James have high steal and block numbers, but they’ve also been huge reasons why Green has broken the 3-point Finals record. The gambling addiction in trying to go for steals and blocks from the weak side has allowed Green to get lost from their sight and find a way to get open for some 3-pointers. As I tweeted earlier on Monday, by my observations, 11 of Green’s 25 made 3-pointers came from Wade and James defending him.
Unless Wade has amazing games in Game 6 and 7 to bring Miami back to win the title, that would probably be the only way he takes the Finals MVP away from James.
With possibly one or two games left in the NBA Finals, there are four players who all have a Finals MVP already and are looking to add another to their collection. But the Finals aren’t about what you’ve done in the past; they’re about what you’re doing right now. And right now, Green has been the rising star of these Finals and making his name a household name.
“Danny Shoot Ball” Coach Popovich once said. If Danny continues to shoot the way he’s been shooting and helps the Spurs capture the title, he may join the stars he’s already in the company of through five games with a Finals MVP of his own.