Grading Each San Antonio Spurs' Player's NBA Finals Performance So Far
The momentum is in their favor, and as shown in the blowout, the team is clicking on all cylinders. With so much riding on the final two wins, they'll need to continue their dominance should they wish to take down the defending champions.
Their attack has been fairly balanced thus far, with different players contributing at different times. While some have shined, others have been detrimental to the Spurs' success, and adjustments must be made as the Spurs prepare for the final few games of the 2012-13 Finals.
If it had not yet become clear, Tony Parker's playoff run ensured the NBA world that he was the league's best point guard. Dominating opponent after opponent, he soon found himself in the Finals, along with the team that he carried to the championship.
Many expected his NBA Finals campaign would hum a similar tune, with Parker carrying San Antonio's weight.
Unfortunately, barring a complete turnaround, it does not appear as though Parker will claim his second Finals MVP accolade in 2013.
His initial performance was spectacular, as Parker produced a game-high 21 points. More impressively, 10 of those came in the final quarter.
His off-balanced dagger will forever be etched into highlight reels and his performance in the opening game may go down as one of the best of his career.
Since then, Parker hasn't lived up to his lofty expectations. His Game 2 performance was forgettable, scoring just 13 points on 5-14 shooting. His five turnovers didn't help his struggle to score.
His Game 3 performance wasn't any better, as the All-Star point guard scored just six points before exiting with a hamstring injury—something that can only hinder Parker's performance going forward.
The Spurs' star has only shown his maximum production on one occasion thus far, with the other two being fairly mediocre—at least for Parker's standards.
Aside from North Carolina fans, few NBA fans initially knew very much about Danny Green. He was cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers once and San Antonio twice, before being given another opportunity.
Now, he is one more fantastic performance away from being the 2013 Finals MVP.
The Spurs' starting shooting guard has transformed into the ultimate role player, as a lockdown defensive star as well as a deadly threat from beyond the arc.
His Game 1 performance was insignificant, but his production in Game 2 was the opposite. Scoring a team-leading 17 points on perfect shooting, Green seemed to be the only player capable of contributing positively.
His execution in the subsequent contest shattered his previous performance. Scoring 27 points, Green led the way to the Spurs' 36-point victory, a feat that will go down in record books. He was deadly accurate from the three-point line, and his defense on LeBron during Kawhi Leonard's resting periods was top-notch.
Of course, he may just be hot. However, as a streaky performer, one can only hope that his production maintains its high level.
If he is able to lead San Antonio to another victory, the once unknown player could potentially win the Finals' most prestigious award, should the Spurs finish off their competitor.
The only other Spur whose name is currently in the Finals MVP debate isn't Tony Parker.
It isn't Tim Duncan nor is it Manu Ginobili. Like Green, the other competitor may be a bit of a surprise, though it really shouldn't be for Spurs fans.
To say Kawhi Leonard has played well would be a massive understatement. The team's youngest star has shined in every aspect of the game.
His scoring contributions haven't been stellar, but his rebounding, primarily his hustle on the offensive glass, has given San Antonio a huge advantage.
Defensively, Leonard was tasked with the most difficult job of anyone on the team—guarding LeBron James.
Leonard has hardly blinked an eye, limiting the league MVP significantly.
Overall, Leonard's statistics don't give the young star enough credit for his massive contributions. Leonard's hustle is unmatched, and aside from a humdrum shooting campaign, the SDSU product has been top-notch throughout the series.
Tim Duncan's production has followed a similar trend to Tony Parker's. A vintage Game 1 showing was the team's backbone through the second and third quarters, despite an 0-5 shooting start.
In Game 2, Duncan was simply awful, and he recognized it.
He stepped it up in the subsequent game, though his contributions weren't truly needed. The Spurs' barrage of three pointers gave the team the scoring necessary to pull off the blowout victory. Duncan's contributions shouldn't be ignored, but he made his biggest impact on the boards.
The veteran big man is playing at a high level for any 37-year-old, though he certainly has seen stronger outputs throughout the season.
His initial performance was fantastic, but his poor production in the following contest left room for improvement.
Going forward, he'll have plenty of chances to redeem himself.
As of now, though, Duncan has been solid, but nothing more.
Tiago Splitter's defensive task has been significantly easier in the Finals than in the previous round, but Splitter has seen a slight drop off in production.
His numbers have fluctuated minimally, and haven't been too impressive. His most notable play wasn't a highlight at all, but rather a failed dunk attempt in which he was blocked by James.
Offensively, he has remained in single-digit territory through all three games, and he hasn't been a force on the boards.
Defensively, Splitter has held his own, though he hasn't been the shut-down post anchor that we saw glimpses of against the Memphis Grizzlies.
He finishes nicely when given the chance, and has come up with a handful of momentum changing shots now an then.
Overall though, Splitter's numbers are a bit low for a starting big man.
Over the past few years, Manu Ginobili has transformed into an annoyingly unpredictable player. At times, he plays as if he was 25 again, though often he turns the ball over and slows down the offense.
The latter has been put on display against Miami.
Ginobili's Game 1 wasn't great, though unfortunately it has been his best of the series. In the second game, Ginobili committed three turnovers in just 18 minutes, though it seemed like a lot more.
His constant desire to make a big play resulted in lost balls, unnecessary risks and an overall bad performance.
His return to San Antonio didn't make much of a difference, as the same poor decision making was manifested on the Spurs' home court.
He has been awful thus far, and certainly doesn't appear to be a veteran in search of a final ring.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals will forever go down as the game in which Gary Neal—alongside Danny Green—completely took over.
Think about that one for a minute.
Neal is an inconsistent, and often unintelligent player. His decision making has never been praised, and he has taken many bad shots over the course of the series.
In Game 3, however, all of them seemed to fall.
Neal's 24 points were second only to Green's 27, and his three-point attack has been deadly. Defensively, he has been strong too.
His first two games were nothing to brag about, but his performance in the third game is the best showing of his short career.
Diaw began the series as the first big man off the bench. In Game 3, he couldn't buy a single minute of playing time. He was held to just two points in his 20 minutes of action between the first two games, and simply has not been a vital contributor to the team.
Matt Bonner is the ultimate enigma. At times, he can be the team's offensive spark. At others, he is completely useless. We haven't seen much of the former this series, with Bonner being more of a defensive liability than an offensive aid.
Cory Joseph's minutes have fluctuated nightly. The sophomore guard saw 21 minutes of action in Game 3, but little prior to that. He runs the floor well when utilized and is defensively sound. In the limited playing time that he has seen, Joseph has been solid.
Why San Antonio doesn't use DeJuan Blair more often will forever remain a mystery. Blair is said to be a defensive liability due to his height, but he works hard on the boards and can produce on offense. Playing only in garbage time, he has made every minute count.
Like Blair, Patty Mills only makes appearances in garbage time. In that time, he hasn't done much, though his towel-waving antics certainly ensure his constant involvement.
All Spurs fans want is for McGrady to score. As of now, they'll be forced to keep hoping. As the team's victory cigar, McGrady likely won't see much action barring another blowout.