Monday, June 17, 2013

The NBA Finals and who should be MVP

 The 2013 NBA Finals have been, well actually really disappointing.  I mean, when the Heat and Spurs won their respective Conference Finals I was ecstatic, I truly believed this was the best match up possible.  In fact, I had hoped for the Spurs to play Miami last year, because with all due respect to Kevin Durant and the Thunder, they're a couple solid pieces away from actually being able to compete with Miami.  Anyway, back to the point.  The series has been boring, why? Because every game save game 1 has been a blowout.  Game 2 was a Heat win by 19, Game 3 was a Spurs win by 36, Game 4 was a Heat win by 16, and most recently Game 5 was a Spurs win by 10 (maybe not a blowout, but the final score was closer than the game really was).  So, yeah the games haven't been all that exciting as they haven't been really that competitive so at least all the marquee players have been great, right?  Uhh not exactly.  Other than a stellar performance in Game 4 Dwayne Wade and LeBron have both been rather pedestrian when compared to how they played all season.  For example, Dwayne Wade is averaging 20 ppg, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 5.4 assists per game, which really aren't terrible numbers but other than his assists they're all down from his regular season totals. Wade is also hurt by the fact when you consider that he's shooting 47% from the field.  While 47% is a pretty good shooting percentage this number is down from his regular season total as well.  So if Wade isn't playing all that well, naturally LeBron is going to pick up the slack right? Unfortunately for the Heat that simply hasn't been the case.  LeBron is averaging 21.6 ppg which is the lowest ppg average for LeBron since his rookie season in 2003.  While LeBron is also averaging 10.8 rebounds per game, as well as a respectable 6.8 assists a game he is simply not scoring the basketball, and even when he's had games of over 20 points he's only shot over 50% from the floor once, and is shooting a paltry 43% from the floor for the entire series, which if he continues to do will end disastrously for Miami.  Not to mention, neither of them have been getting to the line all that much LeBron is shooting 3.8 free throws per game, and shot zero in game 3.  Wade has actually been worse shooting only 3.6 per game.  This is a bad sign for Miami considering that superstars are most effective when they're attacking the defense, drawing fouls and frequently to getting to the line. So, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James are struggling Chris Bosh will pick up the slack right? Well, he hasn't been great either, averaging 14.6 ppg on 12.2 shots per game, while he is averaging 8.8 rebounds he looks non-existent on defense and hasn't done a great job of spacing the floor.  With Miami's big 3 struggling naturally someone like Ray Allen, or Mario Chalmers would step up right?  Wrong.  Chalmers has had one good game but has been pretty much non-existent, Ray Allen has had a few good games but looks like he couldn't guard an 8th grade girl, Mike Miller appears to be on the verge of death every time he steps on the court, though he is shooting the 3 ball pretty well he gets torched every single time on the defensive end so it doesn't really matter.  Shane Battier hasn't shot the ball well, and for being a guy that is praised for his defense and leadership ability, those qualities have yet to be seen in this series.  Norris Cole has been absolutely pathetic, Udonis Haslem has been pretty worthless, and for whatever reason Chris Andersen has registered two consecutive DNPs despite the fact that he shot over 80% against the Pacers, and brings a high amount of energy to the game and gets the crowd fairly amped up.  The Heat need an answer soon or the Spurs are going to take advantage of this 3-2 series lead and put this miserable NBA Finals out of its misery.

With the struggles of Miami's Big 3 it's only natural that the Spurs core of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobli would step up their games and put on thrilling performances then right?  Well, first of all I'm pretty sure Tim Duncan has never had a "thrilling performance" I mean, I'm not saying he's bad, he's the best power forward of all time, but when has anyone ever said "wow! that post up hook shot off the glass by Timmy D was incredible"? I can tell you without a doubt that literally nobody in the history of watching ol' Timmy's historic career has ever uttered anything remotely close to those words. Duncan has been pretty great though, the man is averaging 17.8 ppg to go along with a stellar 11.2 rebounds per game, granted he's only shooting 46% from the floor, but this is 37 year old Tim Duncan we're talking about, not 30 year old Tim Duncan. Duncan has also been solid on the defensive end of the floor, and is definitely making a case for himself as the MVP.  Duncan's other two big time teammates, Ginobli and Parker on the other hand have not really been that great.  Parker has shown flashes of brilliance, particularly in game 1 as well as in game 5 and he had a pretty solid outing in game 4 (15 points, 9 assists) but he hasn't consistently brought his 'A' game night in and night out, which to me takes him out of the consideration for the MVP race simply because in the blowout losses the Spurs have sustained Parker has been nowhere to be found.  Consider this, in the three games the Spurs have won, Parker has averaged 17.6 ppg, despite a 6 point outing in the game 3 win, and has averaged 6.3 assists in all three wins.  On the other hand, in the two losses Parker has averaged just 14 points and 7.5 assists and has averaged 15 shots in the two losses compared to 12.3 per game in the three wins.  Based on statistics alone Parker's game doesn't seem to be all that different when comparing the wins to the losses, however after watching all 5 games the major difference between the two is that Parker appears to be forcing the issue offensively whereas in the three victories Parker has slowed down and taken what the defense gives him and has been far more selective in his shots.  The statistical evidence also proves this point as Parker is shooting a fantastic 55% from the floor in the victories, as opposed to just 40% in the two losses.  I think some of this can be attributed to the fact that the Spurs haven't played their game in the two losses and look to be rushing and forcing the issue and allowing Miami to dictate the tempo of the game.  The Spurs are the best when they're slowing the game down, running the high pick and roll that they've run for over a decade and making the extra passes that Popovich's offense is built on.  Simply put, if the Spurs try to play with the run and gun tempo that Miami typically relies on they will not win this series.  Finally this brings us to the other star player on San Antonio's roster in Manu Ginobli.  It's no secret that I love Manu, his game is unorthodox as hell but he's one of the funnest players to watch, whether it's his right handed drives that end with beautiful left handed finishes or his patented nutmegging (read: passing between a defenders legs) and other beautiful passes, Manu generally brings a high amount of excitement to nearly every game.  However, as is the case with the other big time players playing in this series Manu's has simply not looked like Manu.  Manu has averaged 10.8 ppg this series, and is shooting the ball at a 41% clip, which for a future Hall of Famer (yes, Manu is a Hall of Famer and you will not convince me otherwise) is absolutely abysmal.  Of course, in the Game 5 victory manu came out and scored 24 points and dropped 10 dimes, and shot over 50% but that doesn't excuse the fact that he's been nowhere to be found the other 4 games of this series.  On a side note, there were a lot of people calling for Ginobli to be playing less, and instead Pop inserted him into the starting lineup and as noted Manu had a phenomenal game.  This happened because Greg Popovich is a fucking basketball genius and the rest of us are all simply inferior to the man in all walks of life.

Okay, so LeBron has been mediocre (for LeBron standards), Dwayne Wade hasn't been all that great, Chris Bosh has been an afterthough, Tim Duncan has been pretty good, Tony Parker shows up sometimes, and Manu has been about as effective as I would be in 3 of the 5 games (I'll concede that Ginobli's 13, 0, 3 statline in game 1 is still slightly better than I could do on an NBA court, but come on 1 for 5 in game 4? I'm certain I could easily do that...mostly because nobody that is a self respecting NBA player would even bother guarding me out there but hey I could still do it). So who of this group is the MVP? Well, nobody, I mean, I'm not even going to bother with anybody on Miami because they're down 3-2 in the series, so that means the MVP as of right now at 1:56 pm on June, 17th 2013 is Danny. Fucking. Green.  Yes, Danny Green, the same guy who was drafted 46th overall in the 2009 draft, played 20 games his rookie year and was subsequently waived by the Cavaliers.  The same Danny Green who, after being waived by the Cavs was picked up by the Spurs, waived after six days, played for the Reno Bighorns in the D-League, was picked back up by the Spurs in 2011, who then sent him back down to the D-League with the Austin Toros, and then recalled him at the end of the season.  So Danny Green has been cut by two teams, played two stints in the D-League and is now shooting his way to the most prestigious award in the NBA.  Let's take a look at Green's resume.  First of all as of Game 5 Danny Green now has the record for most trey balls in an NBA finals series with 25, breaking Ray Allen's previous record of 23 and Green has at least one more game to play, which threatens Dennis Scott's all time record of 28 in a 7-game series, and as an Orlando Magic fan I don't even care because Danny Green has been so god damn fun to watch.  Green is also juicing the three ball at an absurd rate, having made 66% of his 3-point attempts which is going to absolutely destroy the previous record of 48.4% set by Robert "Big Shot Bob" Horry back in 2005 when he was coincidentally playing for the San Antonio Spurs.  He will also break the 7-game series record of 61.1% set by Brian Shaw back in 2001.  While the records and the 3 point shooting is obviously fantastic Danny Green is doing more than just knocking down 3 ball after 3 ball while making Ray Allen make this face:

(Yes, Ray, you are a future Hall of Famer and a guy who could barely get a spot on an NBA roster just broke your record, oh and he's been torching your ass all series so that is the appropriate face to be making, it's also hilarious, also Juwan Howard looks really confused, like he doesn't know where is, I wouldn't be surprised if the guy is beginning to have some signs of dementia, but I digress). Green is also doing a pretty decent job rebounding the ball, at 4 rebounds a game.  Stellar? Not really, but couple that with his absolutely beautiful 3 point shooting and his 18 ppg average, and his 56% shooting from the floor overall, and his absolutely stellar defense and I think you've pretty much got to give him the MVP award at this point.  I mean, the guy has been absolutely sensational and he's draining 3s like he's shooting uncontested layups, and how fun is it to watch a role player be this confident?  I mean just watch this:

I imagine this is what went through Danny Green's head at the time of this shot. "28 feet out? 2 guys in my face? Fuck it I'm shooting it." Maybe I'm biased because I'm a 5'10 white guy and all I do is shoot 3s when I play pickup basketball but I am just absolutely loving this barrage of 3s that Danny Green has been hitting. I'm also loving the defense he's been playing on LeBron, Wade, and whoever else he's been assigned to guard.  I mean the man stopped two, yes TWO LeBron/Wade 2-on-1s last night in Game 5.  Oh and uh, there was this little play.

Yes, Danny Green stuffed LeBron on a fast break, I'm pretty sure that he should be given MVP honors just for that.

Danny Green has been phenomenal, and should without question be the MVP of this series if he keeps up this high level of play in game 6, and if needed game 7.  Even if he doesn't win it, it's has been an absolute privilege to watch this guy shoot the ball.
Oh and before I go, this happened.
Danny Green, no fucks given. 

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