Flying Under the Radar: Michael Finley
(Douglas C. Pizac/AP)
(Douglas C. Pizac/AP)
MagicIllustrated.com
Posted Mar 24, 2008


The San Antonio Spurs starting lineup boasts future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, perennial all-stars Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, and Bruce Bowen, who is widely acclaimed for his tenacity and game changing defense. Those are four starters, but the fifth one is flying under the radar, which isn’t easy for a two time all-star.

Guard Michael Finley’s best days are behind him, but the 35-year old veteran proving to be invaluable to the Spurs, who are looking to win their fifth championship in 10 years.

Averaging 9.5 points and 3 rebounds per game, Finley isn’t blowing anyone away with his numbers but he is doing all the little things right for the Spurs. He starts when he’s given the nod, but is more than willing to come off the bench and help supply a charge of energy for his team. In his prime, Finley was a dynamic scorer who averaged 20 points or more a game for five straight seasons. He doesn’t get as many shots as he used to, so now Finley is making them count. His role in the offense isn’t limited to standing around the perimeter and taking open shots, but he has thrived at since joining the Spurs. Last season, in a playoff game versus Denver, he set an NBA record for three-pointers made, going 8/9 from behind the arc. Finley is shooting a respectable 36% from three-point land on the season, but he can also take opponents off the dribble and is a strong finisher around the basket.

Finley is shooting 38% from the field this year, the worst of his NBA career, and while time has taken its toll, Finley is finding other ways to be effective. On defense, Finley has picked up his game and has become a very solid man-to-man defender, but he is still frustrated with his shooting slump.

“It’s nothing the coaches can do,” said Finley who is optimistic that he will regain his shooting touch soon. “I’m good, I’m good.”

Perhaps his statistics have dropped but Finley’s presence has been crucial for the Spurs. The Spurs have been successful in the past decade because they play a team first brand of basketball, and Finley has bought into the system. He is a leader in the locker room and stays away from controversy, which is huge for a team that focuses on chemistry.

Finley will head to Orlando with the Spurs on Tuesday and will start in place of Ginobili, who will be coming off the bench for the rest of the season. The last time Magic faced the Spurs, Finley went 3-of-6 from behind the arc. If he can start shooting like that again, Finley will make the Spurs even more dangerous. Finley will likely see a lot of Keith Bogans, which doesn’t bode well for the veteran because Bogans is more than capable of shutting him down. The Spurs would love it if Finley can get free and start making shots again, but Orlando will keep its fingers crossed that he doesn’t find his shot at the Amway Arena.



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