So far the iconic shot of these NBA Finals is Tony Parker’s spinning-falling-down, double-clutching-LeBron-James-ducking-24-second-clock-beating jumper near the end of Game 1. That doesn’t mean it’s the most important shot.
The most important shot of the series came 46 minutes and 17 seconds of game time earlier, when Danny Green elevated and launched a three-pointer from the left side that swished with 10:22 remaining in the first quarter. It’s not so much about what it did at the moment – give the Spurs an early 7-2 lead – it’s what it led to: a barrage of threes from Green throughout the series. He started off hot and turned the thermostat up to torrid. He has made 16 of the 23 three-pointers he attempted in the NBA Finals, a .696 percentage. And I keep thinking it all goes back to that first shot in the first quarter of the first game.
“It felt good to get it going early,” Green said the next day. “To see that first one go in, it makes it a lot easier, regardless of if it’s the Finals or preseason. It makes the game a lot easier when you see one or two go in.”
Green credits Spurs assistant Chad Forcier for helping him with his technique. But sometimes it’s not about the angle of the elbow or the position of the ball on the fingertips, it's the feeling in the mind. Ask LeBron James, who’s 3 for 13 on three-pointers in this series and said he feels out of rhythm. True, Green hasn’t received as much defensive attention from the Heat as LeBron has from the Spurs. But Green also hasn’t had to fight off any doubt from within his own head. He effectively set a screen on doubt with his first shot, and has been knocking down open looks ever since.