MIAMI — If the Miami Heat are going to force a Game 7 of the NBA Finals, they have to make a defensive adjustment on Danny Green. A virtual unknown before the series, Green has emerged as a series MVP candidate by sinking 25 3-pointers, including six in the Spurs’ 114-104 Game 5 win at AT&T Center Sunday night.
Green’s rise has served as one of the most stunning developments of the series, which was supposed to pit the Miami Big Three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade against San Antonio’s trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili. While they have enjoyed their moments, the three Spurs are each shooting below 50 percent.
Green, on the other hand, is shooting 30 for 53 from the field and is the third-leading scorer in the series behind James and Wade. Green has consistently burned the Heat with 3-pointers off transition and has found open space when Miami collapses on the Spurs’ big men.
After the first few games of Green 3-pointers, the Heat adjusted and held him to five attempts in Game 4. But he responded strongly in Game 5, presenting even more defensive issues for the Heat.
“Yeah, Danny has been playing great. He’s making shots,’’ said Parker. “I can’t believe he’s still open at this moment of this series. They are still trapping me and doubling Timmy, and Danny is wide open. He’s shooting the ball well. If you are going to leave Danny wide open, he’s going to make threes.”
Miami has emphasized containing Parker’s dribble penetration and doubling Duncan but Green now has to become a defensive emphasis along with Ginobili, who broke out for a season-high 24 points in Game 5 and now becomes an X-factor.
“That will be something that we have to correct, and we just got to do it better,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Got to do it harder, and be more committed. He’s getting some open looks, and he’s making some contested looks.
“But the open looks are the ones that are killing us.”
Wade said the Heat have to find Green in transition to have any success against their long-range game.
“This is the kind of team that I feel capitalizes on any mistakes you make. So if you’re half a second late, they capitalize on it,” he said. “Give [Green] credit, making some hard shots.
“He’s also getting some stuff in transition as well. They’re running a lot. And he’s the beneficiary of Tony Parker’s penetration. And he’s getting some shots.
“But he’s making them. Give them credit, man. He’s knocking them down. Not many guys have shot the ball this well, especially in the Finals, that I can remember.
“We do have to do a better job like we did in Game 4 of knowing where the shooters are at all times. He got away from us a few times tonight, and he knocked them down.”
Miami forward Chris Andersen has not played the past two games, as Spoelstra has opted for Udonis Haslem to play backup power forward. Andersen would not speak with reporters before Saturday’s practice . . . Because Spoelstra has played with smaller players, Tiago Splitter has been unable to spend significant time on the court because of mismatches. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has chosen veteran swingman Boris Diaw to soak up Splitter’s minutes and defend James. So far, Diaw has been a pleasant surprise in the series with his energy . . . Spoelstra has to determine whether to go without a point guard at times in Game 6. He benched both Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole in stretches and used Wade and James to handle the ball. The ploy was effective.Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe