LeBron James found himself matched up with Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard for most of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, and he ended up scoring just 15 points. Green did his best to not take too much credit following the game, saying about LeBron, "He's stopping himself."
Throughout the postgame interviews from Erik Spoelstra, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James himself, the Miami Heat spokesmen did their best to compliment the San Antonio Spurs defense that held them to just 77 points in Game 3. But as Green noted, there was more to it than that.
DANNY GREEN: "It’s not just us stopping LeBron. He’s stopping himself."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 12, 2013
Green's response was not meant to be a dig at LeBron. Rather, it was him trying to avoid an Icarus-type situation where he finds himself flying too close to the sun.
He doesn't want to go out and claim that his defense (along with quite a bit of Leonard) was what gave the superstar such a hard time.
Danny trying to say it's LeBron stopping himself to not brag about it, media senses opening to say Green is criticizing him.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 12, 2013
San Antonio has been forcing LeBron into jump shots as much as possible, using slacked double-teams during the pick-and-roll to both keep him from driving and the pick-setter from rolling.
The result in Game 3 was just a third of his shots coming at the rim, along with five of his seven buckets. James was 2-of-14 from everywhere else on the floor.
In essence, the Spurs are trying to get LeBron to stop himself, and it just happened to work in Game 3.
Danny Green is right. Spurs not doing anything magical on LeBron. He's being forced into help defenders or settling for Js, not attacking.— Michael Wallace (@WallaceNBA_ESPN) June 12, 2013
San Antonio has attempted to make LeBron shoot from his least efficient range, 10-15 feet, according to HoopData, in hopes that he doesn't have an above-average night.
It worked miraculously on Tuesday night.