As the emotional leader of the Warriors, Draymond Green’s infections and hard-charging energy play a pivotal role in the success of Golden State.
In the Warriors’ 107-88 win over the Celtics, Green finished with nine points, five rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and one block. But it wasn’t just his counting stats that contributed to Golden States Game 2 win. No, it was his ability to get under the collective skin of Boston.
The former Michigan State Spartan spent most of Game 2 jaw-jacking with the Celtics, flexin’ on them after tough buckets, and played with a level of intensity Golden State missed in Game 1.
Green’s motor and tenacity set the tone for the Warriors. He forced a jump ball with Al Horford during the game’s first possession. Moments later, Green drew a technical foul after drawing a foul on Grant Williams, staying in his face, and pushing him around after the call was made.
“We need that energy,” he said per The New York Times. “For me to sit back and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to push it to this edge and try to pull back,’ that don’t work. I’ve got to be me.”
Green continued to play the physical two-way, bone-crushing screen-setting and playmaking style that’s earned him plenty of admiration and ire across the League. Day-Day was close to crossing the line and drawing a second tech in the second quarter. Green contested a Jaylen Brown three-pointer hard, bowling Brown over.
Brown took exception to Green’s legs being on top of him and got up quickly as the two All-Stars got into a pushing match. The minor incident ultimately didn’t draw a second tech, which would’ve resulted in Green being ejected early in Game 2.
Stephen Curry (29 points, six rebounds, four assists on 5-12 shooting from deep) said it was clear to him after “about five minutes” after Golden State’s Game 1 loss that Green would play Sunday’s Game 2 with another level of intensity.
“He knew what he needed to do,” Curry said. “I think we talk about how some of that stuff doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet in terms of points, rebounds, assists. But you feel him in his presence, and the other team feels his presence and his intensity, and that’s contagious for all of us.”
The Warriors held the Celtics to 37.5, shooting from the field as a team. Green held Brown to 5-17 shooting as his primary defender. As the director of the Warriors’ defense, Green has gained a lot of leeway from his teammates and coaches as the Warriors won titles and lost some. He’s earned an improved ability to toe the line and play hard and press forward or pull the fire back during pivotal moments.
“I think we’re in a great mental space,” Green said. “Nobody panicked. Everybody stayed the course. And we ultimately knew if we go out and play our game, we put ourselves right back in position to take control of the series.”
The NBA Finals shift to Boston this week, starting with Wednesday’s Game 3.