POSTED: Jun 16, 2016 9:53 AM ET
Media Availability: Draymond Green
Draymond Green addresses the media during Wednesday's practice session.
CLEVELAND — You'll recall the last time Draymond Green vowed not to let a hullaballoo of his own making interfere with his ability to deliver in a game, things did not work out quite so well.
That was during the Western Conference finals in Oklahoma City, after the NBA's suits of justice decided a kick Down Under to New Zealander Steven Adams didn't merit a suspension and allowed him to play in Game 4.
Green spent 38 minutes toiling under a crescendo of full-throated displeasure each time he touched the basketball and shot just 1-for-7 as the Warriors lost by 24 points.
It's a hard enough challenge to try to win a game in the NBA Finals. ... That's enough to focus on to come and do whatever I have to take, do whatever it takes to help my team win the game.
– Draymond Green
So here is the lightning rod for raw emotion/bad behavior back on a bigger stage in The Finals (Thursday, 9 p.m., ABC) once again looking to redeem if not atone following his suspension -- based on cumulative flagrant foul points -- that resulted from striking LeBron James in the groin.
"I have a strong belief that if I play Game 5, we win," Green said Wednesday. "But I didn't because I put myself in a situation where I wasn't able to play. And I thought my teammates fought and didn't play well. But still with six minutes to go, down six points, but continued to battle. And it's on me to help that battle."
GameTime: The Draymond Effect
The GameTime crew discusses the effect that Draymond Green has on the Warriors' play.
He will have to perform better and deliver much, much more than the game in OKC when Green spent most of night roaming the court as in a daze, there in body, but hardly in spirit. At least not the kind of spirit the Warriors usually rely on, which is to say the foamy, all-over-the-place explosion of champagne when the cork comes out of the bottle.
Green will be tested not only by the raucous crowd at Quicken Loans Arena, but surely by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite their innocent protestations to the contrary, the Cavs will poke, prod, tease and taunt Green, trying to get another emotional rise that blows right through the top of the thermometer and produces one more sit-down for a possible Game 7.
"You know, I won't go into Game 6 thinking, 'Will my patience be tested? Will it not?' " he said. "It's a hard enough challenge to try to win a game in the NBA Finals. Then you talk about the challenge of trying to win on the road, that challenge doubles and triples. So that's a hard enough challenge in itself. That's enough to focus on to come and do whatever I have to take, do whatever it takes to help my team win the game."
Thus, the conundrum and perhaps the problems that arose in OKC. Because for Green to do "whatever it takes" means that he spends more time walking a tightrope than a member of the Wallenda family, balancing rage and production that is a vital mix in the Golden State's explosive chemistry. For all the accolades and attention that the "Splash Brothers" of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson get, theirs is a fantastic basketball act that works best when Green is working, churning, snarling and doing all of the big and little things he does that create space for them to shoot, while also creating havoc on defense. It was no coincidence that James and Kyrie Irving lived at the rim in Green's absence.
Film Room: Missing Green
The Film Room panel discusses what Golden State missed in game 5 from their All-Star forward Draymond Green.
If the Cavaliers win Thursday, force a Game 7 (that was virtually unthinkable less than a week ago) and then go on to win the championship by becoming the first team in NBA history to rally from a 3-1 Finals hole, then Green's loss of composure and will go down in the annals of American sports history as an all-time championship gaffe. It'll be up there with the ball going through Bill Buckner's legs in the World Series and Scott Norwood's kick sailing wide right in the Super Bowl.
Green spent Game 5 next door to Oracle Arena at an Oakland A's game, helpless to contribute.
"My emotions were all over the place," Green said. "At times I'm excited. At times I'm frustrated. At times I'm down. An emotional roller coaster that day."
They're the fiery emotions that have fueled Green's rapid rise from second-round Draft choice to All-Star to All-NBA second teamer to indispensable part of the Warriors machine.
"I think he's going to play with that same aggression, same passion, leave it all on the the floor but be smart," said Curry. "I'm pretty sure he'll be talkative, but hopefully in a very constructive way."
"He was very apologetic," Thompson said. "We could tell it hurt him bad. He told us it was the toughest thing he had to sit through as an athlete and couldn't imagine. But he has a chance to redeem himself."
What Green has to do before he steps onto the court is fit that intensity that drives him with the calculated comprehension of what it means to be a true leader, not just a screamer. That 15-point, 15-rebound average in the series means nothing if it comes with 0 and 0 in a deciding game.
"I learned a lot," Green said. "As a basketball player, as a man, just things you have to do. You can't put yourself in certain positions. Not putting yourself in harm's way and really being a better teammate. The way I view it is me not being out there on the floor to battle with my guys is being a bad teammate and I take pride in being a good teammate."
No better chance to prove it than Game 6.
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