Down two games to one in the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, there is concern surrounding the Golden State Warriors, but things aren’t dire for them by any means.
They lost Game 3, 116-100, while getting out-rebounded by a wide margin, but there are positives they can take moving forward.
But Golden State has plenty of work to do, and it starts with their Swiss Army knife and spiritual leader, Draymond Green.
In 35 minutes on Wednesday, he mustered just four rebounds and two points, and his impact hasn’t been felt in this series the way it normally is, or the way it certainly was when the Warriors won three NBA titles several years ago.
They can definitely get back in this series and claim the world championship, but Green is going to have to raise his game significantly.
Green Is A Vital Part Of Golden State’s Machine
Green is much more than a man who runs his mouth, gets under the skin of opposing players, and occasionally commits dirty fouls.
Over the last several years, he has been the Warriors’ best passer, arguably its best rebounder, and one of the best defenders in the NBA.
During the regular season, he led the team with 7.0 assists per game and was tied with Kevon Looney for the highest rebound average on the squad at 7.3 per contest.
Green may only be listed at 6-foot-6, but when he plays up to his standards, he plays much bigger than that.
He also has a history of upping his game during the playoffs and especially the NBA Finals.
For his career, he has averaged 6.9 boards a game in the regular season, but that number is at 9.0 a game in the playoffs, and he has had many double-digit rebounding games in the championship series.
As the emotional leader of the Warriors, Green also has the ability to galvanize his teammates, many of whom are very even-keeled by comparison.
After Golden State lost Game 1, he took it upon himself to set the right emotional tone for the next contest.
He did just that, carrying himself with a frenetic attitude both physically and emotionally that almost got him tossed from the contest.
But it worked, as his team won by 19 points.
The Green who showed up for Game 3 was a different man, and many took him to task for not getting the job done.
"Where you play 34 minutes, you have 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 points. Draymond Green does that in a grade school game, not in the NBA Finals… He has lost focus in terms of concentrating on beating the opponent"
— Isiah Thomas on Draymond Green's performance in Game 3 pic.twitter.com/tf8EdEZnCu
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 (@_Talkin_NBA) June 9, 2022
Draymond Green this series:
15 points pic.twitter.com/1CNMyNuYN8
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 9, 2022
One Thing He Needs To Do Better
For the Warriors to win this series, they need Green to not only rebound better and establish a more aggressive tone for himself and his teammates.
They also need Green to look to score.
He is a team player to a fault, but he can score when he needs to in big games, and he has done so in the past.
Draymond Green this playoffs:
17 — Podcast episodes
14 — Games with double-digit points or rebounds or assists pic.twitter.com/cqy5bYYx3W
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 9, 2022
In Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, with scoring at a premium for both the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, Green put up 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.
He may not need to score 32 points, or even 20 points in this series, but he does need to be more aggressive.
Whenever he has the opportunity to attack the paint, he needs to do so instead of simply looking for a dribble handoff or a kick-out pass to someone beyond the 3-point line.
If the Warriors take Game 4, the momentum will likely swing in their favor, especially with Game 5 and Game 7 (if necessary) in San Francisco.