OAKLAND – If there was an X factor in the Raptors’ 123-109 Game 3 victory over the Warriors on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, it was the three-point shooting of Danny Green.
The North Babylon native has made his living at the three-point line over the course of 11 seasons, but he was coming off a 4-for-23 performance in the Eastern Conference finals.
Green has lit up the NBA Finals from three-point range in the past with the Spurs, including their 2013 title, and he was at home once again on the biggest stage against the Warriors. Shooting exclusively from beyond the arc, Green had 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting, scoring nine points during key stretches of the first and third periods to power two 36-point Raptors quarters.
“I think Danny’s buckets boosted our whole team’s confidence because we’re kind of used to most of the year relying on those,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “When he banked a couple there and then he kind of kept it going, I think it was just a huge confidence boost all around.”
Nurse said one of his players wrote “Let it rip” on the whiteboard in the locker room, and no one did that better than Green. The Raptors made 17 of 38 three-point attempts, including a 5-for-9 effort by point guard Kyle Lowry.
“I think we all kind of followed that advice, but it’s easier to look at that now and say it worked great for us, especially on a great shooting night,” Green said. “We haven’t had a really good team shooting night, and I knew eventually we were due for one. Luckily, we got one tonight, but we still have to do a better job defensively so we don’t have to rely on our offense or our shooting to win games.”
The Raptors’ three-point shooting made all the difference in the world against a Warriors team that got a playoff career-high 47 points from Steph Curry and that kept coming back despite the absence of injured stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. The win gave the Raptors a 2-1 series lead and restored their home-court advantage.
Lowry said the trade that brought superstar Kawhi Leonard, who had 30 points in Game 3, and Green to the Raptors this season helped to give them a championship pedigree they previously lacked to carry them into June. Leonard is a top-five NBA player, but Green’s numbers in the NBA Finals also bear that out.
Game 3 marked the third time Green has made at least six three-pointers in a Finals game, a number matched only by Curry. His career three-point percentage in the Finals is 51.6, and he is the only one of 35 players with at least 50 three-point attempts who has made more than half. Green moved past Michael Jordan and former Spurs teammate Manu Ginobili into ninth place with 47 made three-pointers in the Finals, which is just one behind the Lakers pair of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, who are tied for seventh all-time.
In Game 3, the timing of Green’s makes was striking for the way he continually stopped Warriors runs. When Curry hit from 32 feet to cut the Raptors’ lead to four in the final seconds of the opening quarter, Green responded at the other end. After the Warriors cut a 14-point Raptors lead to seven near the end of the third period, Green hit a trio of threes that gave them a 16-point lead.
“I wouldn’t say I was hot, but I was comfortable,” Green said. “We had a good flow, we had a good couple stops where we can run and get our transition or where we get some good, uncontested looks and they fell for me.”