NBA

NBA Finals 2022: In Boston, Draymond Green of the Warriors gets his fourth ring and the last laugh

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Draymond Green, fourformer NBA champion, living legend of the Golden State Warriors, TNT analyst, increasingly popular podcaster and future Hall of Famer, had the last laugh at TD Garden. In the same building where he was greeted by boos and F-Yous, where six days earlier he had watched much of the fourth quarter from the bench, Green got his fingerprints all over Game 6 – 12 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, two steals, just one foul – and the villain emerged victorious.

Green was blamed when he missed 10 of 12 shots and the Boston Celtics stole home-court advantage in Game 1 of the Finals. He took the heat when he fouled in Game 3 and the crowd “caught me off guard”, as he put it. And when the Warriors needed to win a closing game in a hostile environment to clinch their fourth championship in eight years, Green was indispensable. He has recorded 42 minutes, the most he has played in a game without overtime since June 13, 2019, the last time they played in a Game 6 in the final.

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“If you know basketball and you watch Game 1, I didn’t have a bad Game 1,” Green said. “And I had an amazing game 2. And game 3 was kind of like, terrible, awful. And game 4 was not my best effort but not totally special. And game 5, game 5, I was pretty solid. I came out with great energy.

“Game 6, I dominated.”

Stephen Curry finally deservedly lifted the Finals MVP trophy after the 103-90 win, but would you watch that final score? This, like the rest of Golden State’s wins in this series, was grimy, a credit to the defense that ranked second only to Boston, a reflection of Green more than anyone. The Celtics scored an abysmal 96.8 points per 100 possessions in Game 6, and according to Cleaning The Glass, just 81.8 per 100 in half court.

“Our defense has been spectacular this series, especially the last three games,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And the Celtics had the best defense in the league, but we were right behind them. I think what made this group really special, besides the obvious with Steph, was the defensive intensity and the versatility. And for that, Draymond is the guy to point to, the head of it all.”

After Golden State’s two losses, Green said he and the team needed to play harder and Boston was too comfortable. The Warriors were up against an offense that can reach great heights, but can go haywire when pressured and pushed around. They struggled against the Celtics’ half-court defense, but they knew they would feast on transition opportunities if they could create them. In the clincher, Boston turned the ball over 22 times, including 13 interceptions. And whether the Celtics coughed or missed a shot, Green was usually the guy pushing the ball downfield, putting them on their heels.

Green was also one of many guys to crush the boards. At the start of the second quarter he shoved Jayson Tatum wide and tapped the ball straight at Jordan Poole for a 3. About a minute later he chased another miss and immediately found Poole for another . The Warriors rebounded 40.7% from failures on Thursday and scored 21 second-chance points.

“He’s our leader, and we need him to be on the lookout,” Golden State big man Kevon Looney said. “He and Steph have really different leadership styles, and they balance each other out. When you have Draymond there putting his body on the line, he can be the bad guy, whatever you need him to be. He’s going to come out and do it for the team. We can’t give him enough credit for what he does for us.”

Looney said the Warriors “kind of play with the same energy that he brings on defense,” adding that “we always talk about Stephen on offense, and we kind of compare Draymond on defense in the same way.” In other words, you expect him to set the tone on defense, tell everyone where to be, and make plays like these:

However, you wouldn’t necessarily expect him to make a floater on Golden State’s first offensive possession, or make two corner 3s, one of them just in front of the Boston bench, or that he does a long 2 over Robert Williams III as the Celtics. run a race:

“He always says, ‘I’m 90 percent in the clutch,'” Looney said. “We always say, when it’s a tight game, he’s going to be in the action and make things happen. When you have someone you can count on like that and who you can rely on, it gives everything the world a boost of confidence.”

“He’s brash and he is who he is, but when you need him he shows up,” said Andre Iguodala.

Green said he knows he hasn’t quite put together a big, full game on the show. For him, it was about staying the course.

“I said, ‘What better time than to set it up tonight,'” Green said. “I don’t think I heard ‘F-you, Draymond’ all night. They could not. So, you know, it’s easy to sing “F-you” when someone has a bad game, but can’t you do that when they have a great game? I haven’t heard much about it tonight. Maybe I was just locked up.”

There was another “F— You, Draymond” chant on Thursday. This time it was Green’s cheering teammates in a champagne-soaked locker room who said it, with well-deserved smiles on their faces.

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