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Game 3: It’s Quite Easy Bein’ Green (and Neal)

June 12, 2013

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(Photos by Kin Man Hui & Jerry Lara of the San Antonio Express-News)

How did the Spurs manage a 55-point turnaround from being smacked down in Game 2 by the Heat 103-84, to blowing their doors off 113-77 in Game 3? A quick glance at the box score suggests Danny Green and Gary Neal were most responsible for the Spurs’ domination, and that is largely accurate.

The third-biggest blowout in NBA Finals history was driven in large part by the scorching 3-point shooting of Green (7-of-9 beyond the arc) and Neal (6-of-10 from downtown), who finished with 27 and 24 points, respectively. Those two were clearly the story of Game 3.

But the real story of this series – the guy who has been the true MVP of The Finals up to this point – is Kawhi Leonard. His relentless work on the boards (36 rebounds – 13 offensive – in three games, posting double-doubles in two of those games) and total lockdown effort on defense (holding LeBron James to three consecutive playoff-low point totals: 18, 17, and 15) has been extraordinary.

The only negative to come out of Game 3 for the Spurs was an apparent hamstring injury to Tony Parker, whose status for Game 4 is in doubt. The Spurs were able to dominate Game 3 without a huge contribution from Parker (6 points), but their odds of winning without him are extremely slim. Cory Joseph has exceeded expectations as backup point guard during the playoffs so far, especially for a guy who spent a good portion of the season in the D-League, but to rely upon him as a starter in The Finals against the Heat is likely asking more than he’s capable of delivering.

Parker’s health will be the most important storyline of The Finals from this point forward. No matter how hot Green and Neal can remain from long range, the Spurs absolutely need Parker running the point to have any hope of claiming their fifth title. If the team’s trainer can get Parker back on the court, perhaps he should be named Finals MVP.

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