AS THE FINALIn the first quarter against Dallas Mavericks in Western Conference Finals Game 1, Spencer Dinwiddie drives to the right side. Draymond green is perched there, anticipating what's to come. A Dinwiddie pass is made to Dorian Finney Smith in left corner.
Green explodes through the paint as Finney Smith passes to the Mavs' guard. With 5.3 seconds remaining, Finney Smith rejects Green's catch and shoot 3 back towards the Mavs bench.
Green lets out an exaggerated scream when he is walked by Mark Cuban, Dallas owner and former Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki.
It's a great way to end a first quarter in which the Warriors held a 10-point lead. Green scores on the layup that Maxi Kleber fouled while Dallas is within two points. Green sits up on the ground and flexes his arms, staring at Kleber before converting the three-point play.
The Mavericks felt Green's presence especially on defense, where he held them to 4-for-15 shooting as the primary defender, including 0-for-9 from behind the arc — tied for the third-most misses against a single defender from 3 since ESPN Stats & Information began tracking playoff games in 2013-14.
Luka Doncic, the Mavericks' star, finished the game with 20 points. This was his lowest postseason output, and he won the Warriors' 112-87 Game 1.
Doncic stated that he has so much respect for Draymond on the eve Western Conference finals. “Obviously Klay [Thompson]Steph [Curry]Incredible offensive guys. Draymond is my favorite player on the Warriors' team. He is simply amazing.”
Green has waited three long years to get back to this stage. After the Warriors' defeat to the Toronto Raptors, Green watched Thompson (broken hand), and Curry (ruptured Achilles, ACL) sustain serious injuries. Golden State would have missed the playoffs without those two and Green would not have been complete. It was evident when he shot a disappointing 38.9% from goal — the lowest shooting percentage since averaging 32.7% in his rookie season — in 43 games over the 2019-20 season.
Green described the disappointment of not making the playoffs in two previous seasons as “brutal”. “We've wanted to go back to this area for a long time.
“And we didn’t leave because we got too old to do so… [or]We all parted ways. We lost to Toronto, but nobody has said that the Golden State Warriors are done.
After a disappointing 2019-20 season and postseason absence, Warriors' fiery leader is eager to prove he is still the best Playoff Draymond.
Green told ESPN that he believes that people find it very frightening. “And that's what makes me feel so confident… People had difficulty dealing with me previously. [But]I am now in a space that is completely different and better. Not even close. “Much, much better than what I was before.”
Green claimed that he's never been more “locked-in” mentally or defensively than now, even though the Warriors have reached five consecutive NBA Finals. Second Spectrum reports that he is allowing 37.3% shooting to be the closest defender in 2022 playoffs. This is his best under Steve Kerr, even excluding last year's play in.
Green believes that after all the losses, injuries and failures, he's at his best defensively. On Sunday, the Warriors will be leading Dallas by 3-0.
Green said, “I feel as if right now I am at my highest mental capacity that I have ever been,” “For sure.”
AS THE WARRIORSSeveral people gathered on the Chase Center's floor to shootaround before Game 4 against the Grizzlies. Green sat in his locker room.
Green woke up that morning to learn that Adreian Payne was his ex-teammate at Michigan State and had been gunned down in Florida just hours before.
Kerr allowed the grief-stricken Green leave and asked him to return home. After the victory of Golden State 101-98 in Game 4, Green decided to stay and join his teammates.
Green made perhaps the most important play of the game, blocking Jaren Jackson Jr.'s game-tying 3, with 12.7 seconds remaining.
Green began to feel the pain of losing to the Grizzlies after the high of coming back from 12 down started to subside.
Green admitted that his emotions were “all over the place” and apologized to the media for not answering any questions. “I'm sort of losing that emotion from this game. So I'm going back to work and will just talk on my podcast.
“Because that I can pause and cry if it's necessary. I don’t like to cry in public.
Green, who was a young player, had acknowledged that his growing family helped him see things differently.
“I love basketball,” Green explained. “[But]What my children have done for me is give me perspective about what matters and what doesn’t matter, and how I can react to those things that matter.
Green's emotions were often a problem early in his career. But with his fiancée and three kids, Green learned to troubleshoot issues with patience.
Green explained that “there's a way to get through that.” “Like working with your children through things, or for me, with my fiancée and working through things with her. I learned from them how to react to such situations.
Green's five-year old DJ has provided additional motivation for this postseason. Green's five consecutive Finals runs ended with Green's children too young to grasp how much their father had won. DJ has been there for the team's practices and games this season. Many of Green's friends say that this is the best mental space they have seen him in.
Kerr stated that he believes DJ rebounding in practice has helped him. He is not sitting there, taking in the whole thing. It's a joy to be able to play with your child and see the world around you.
Green has been teaching Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and Gary Payton II how to play championship-winning defense. Mike Brown, Warriors defensive coordinator, said that Green's greatest achievement this season was lifting a unit with players not well-known as defenders.
Poole described Green as a “completely different Draymond” after experiencing the playoffs for first time. “The energy that he brought, how locked-in he was and how focused, he's already a vocal individual but the things that he would talk to, how detail-oriented, his leadership, the manner he would move people about and get us in positions. He was engaged in every game, 48 of them.
This defense has had to take on more responsibility than the Warriors' veteran-laden units that reached the Finals.
Kerr stated that Kerr believes this year has been his best in terms of leadership. “And holding our team up to a high standard defensively, and mentoring young boys, but also inspiring them.”
Green isn't losing his explosive edge, of course.
Brown stated that he had told Green “I need your help to keep the fire going.” We are going to be great if you can keep the fire lit for this team.
Memphis fans were able to taste the old Green in the first minutes of Game 2 during the conference semifinals. Green received a minor concussion from Xavier Tillman after he accidentally elbowed him. He was bleeding near his right eye.
Green, on his way to tunnel, heard jeers from Memphis crowd. He responded by flipping both his middle fingers at them. Later, he would tell them that it felt good to flip them off because they were booing him while he was still bleeding from his eye. Green was fined $25,000 and told the league that if Memphis fans were going to be rude, “I can't be nasty either.”
He played 32 minutes and finished with 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Green also played in the 126-117 victory for Golden State against Dallas in Game 2. He was fouled out after committing one technical foul, but didn't receive a second.
“It's true,” said Tom Izzo (Michigan State men's basketball coach), who was present in Memphis as Green's fans flipped. “Draymond, I don’t know what the correct word would be, can get, I don’t even know what it is, but sometimes you can get emotionally out of control. He has been in the right mental frame for most of this season. When he's mentally at his best, he can handle all of these situations with his basketball IQ.
“He is a work of art to watch him defend.”
ONE DAY FOLLOWINGGreen celebrated his victory by digging his nails into Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP and eliminating the Denver Nuggets from the first round.
He turned the team's day off into a getaway spa day for him and his fiancée, Hazel Renee.
Green saw it as Green deserved some pampering after facing Jokic. Green claims that Jokic's Nuggets win against Golden State was the Nuggets' most challenging defensive assignment.
Green thanked Jokic at the court for making him better after the series was over.
Green stated, “I was in a five round heavyweight fight.” “It's coming with Iron Mike like power punches. Only against LeBron James is that possible.
“Every possession was like a chess match.”
Statistics showed that Jokic's stats — 31.0 points and 13.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 51.0 points — were consistent with his regular season production. Green rose to this occasion when the Nuggets centre needed a basket most.
The Nuggets were down five with 40.8 seconds remaining in Game 3. Jokic was the winner. The 6-foot-11 Green, a center at 6-6, backed down Jokic who was dribbling high and away from his body. Green swiped with his left hand to get the ball and it bounced back to Green's hand. This helped Golden State win the series 3-0.
Green's uncle Bennie Baber was the one who taught him how to play defense when he was a little boy. “Try everything… you'll find when you're going to need them.”
“[You know how]The offensive side is where the guys are in control and they go for 30 [for like]Green stated that he feels the defensive end is in a state of mind where he can play 20 games. “I feel so mental locked in to my space, that I feel like a run in which I can do no wrong on defense. Every night I go for 30.”
Green will return to the place that makes his heart happy if he is able to continue helping Golden State solve Doncic's problems.
Green stated, “I have so many more gratitude for every game.” Green said, “I feel so much more grateful for each game.” [just]The first round series win.”
The Warriors are aware that there won't be many of these runs with Steph and Klay, so they have decided to end them.
Kerr stated, “We all realize that we're not the team with a 10-year runway in front of us.” “… This is closer than the twilight. It's closer towards the end.
“… We would like to believe we have a few more years. But it's an entirely different vibe.
The mission is the same. Green is determined to make the Warriors kings once again. This time, he will be the most powerful version of himself at his defensive peak.
“If I can…” [be]This is even better [than before]How much more can I make this team? Green agreed. Green stated, “If this team can be made that much better, then we'll beat them.” This is how I feel.