2022 NBA Finals: Warriors vs. Celtics

Draymond Green pushes Warriors' defense, Celtics' patience

The All-Star forward stepped up his intensity during Golden State's Game 2 win and could be a big factor in pushing the team toward another title.

How did Draymond Green help Golden State get going early in Game 2 with his intensity on both ends of the floor against Boston?

• Complete coverage: 2022 NBA Finals

SAN FRANCISCO – Whether they jumped in the air, fell on the ground or confronted each other standing up, the two All-Stars captured what makes playoff basketball so physical and chippy.

The physical? After contesting a 3-pointer on Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green fell to the ground both because of his forward momentum and because Brown inadvertently kicked out his left leg.

The chippy? After both players landed on the ground, Green’s legs landed on top of Brown. He pushed Green’s legs away, prompting Green to shove Brown in the back. Brown then turned and stood over Green, who then tugged at Brown’s shorts before standing up to him.

“Somebody got their legs on the top of your head and then he tried to pull my pants down,” Brown said. “I don’t know what that was about. That’s what Draymond Green does. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. He’ll pull you. He’ll grab you. And he’ll try to muck the game up because that’s what he does for their team.”


No doubt, Green has remained the Warriors’ engine that fuels their defensive intensity through three NBA championship runs. The same thing happened in the Warriors’ 107-88 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. Nothing captured the Warriors’ fire more than Green’s tussle with Brown toward the end of the first half.

Yet, the Warriors argued their defensive prowess goes beyond Green’s fiery emotions and ability to test the officiating limits without drawing a second technical foul. It involves tapping into an identity they believe will be instrumental to winning this series.

“Everybody played with more force. It wasn’t just me on Jaylen Brown. It was across the board,” Green said. “If I just pick up my force and no one else does, it doesn’t work. It’s a total team effort. It’s about guys being ready to help when help is needed and guys taking on the challenge at the point of attack.”

The Warriors believe they lacked that mindset in their Game 1 loss to Boston. They squandered a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, including allowing Boston to reel off seven unanswered points en route to 40 fourth-quarter points on 15-for-22 shooting overall and 9-for-12 from deep.

The Warriors did not express too much concern. Curry shared that he knew Green would revamp the team’s defense “about five minutes after Game 1.” Both after the game and after Saturday’s practice, Green self-critiqued both his 2-for-12 clip from the field and his defensive execution. It took less than five minutes in Game 2 to show Green meant business.

Eleven seconds into Game 2, Green tied up Celtics forward Al Horford to force a jump ball before the Warriors created a turnover. Afterward, Horford contended that Green’s presence had “no impact” on how the Celtics played. It surely impacted the Warriors, however.

Draymond Green's intensity the driving force for Warriors

“You feel him in his presence and the other team feels his presence and his intensity,” Curry said. “That is contagious for all of us.”

The reasons went beyond vivid incidents, such as Green’s tussles with Horford and Brown. The Warriors also tweaked their defensive philosophy. The Warriors assigned Green on Brown, while shifting Klay Thompson onto Horford. Though Andrew Wiggins still primarily defended Jayson Tatum, the Warriors also threw Gary Payton II on him. Curry willingly defended Smart. Warriors forward Kevon Looney and Otto Porter Jr. leaned on their hustle and positional versatility to go against Celtics center Robert Williams III.

The end result? Brown had only 17 points on 5-for-17 shooting in Game 2 after having 24 points on a 10-for-23 mark in Game 1. Tatum increased his scoring marks to 28 at the expense of his assists (three). Neither Horford (two) nor Smart (two) produced much offensively. Despite their size disadvantage, the Warriors eclipsed the Celtics in points in the paint (40-24). The Celtics also committed 18 turnovers.

“Turnovers are often a byproduct of physicality and intensity,” Kerr said. “Our whole team was physical and intense. We did a good job of trying to make things difficult for them.”

The Warriors remain mindful that how well they sustain this effort could dictate their championship fortunes. Consider that the Warriors fared high among NBA playoffs teams in defensive rating during all three of their championship seasons in 2015 (1st: 98.8), 2017 (2nd: 105.3) and 2018 (1st: 102.0).

This season, the Warriors currently rank sixth among NBA playoff teams in defensive rating (110.8). The Warriors will likely need to improve that number to win an NBA title. Beyond Curry’s offensive brilliance, the Warriors have labored so far without receiving much help. Thompson has shot a combined 10-for-33 from the field. Wiggins (12-for-27) and Poole (8-for-21) have not fared much better.

Though the Warriors expressed optimism those players will improve those shooting numbers, they know it becomes harder in the Finals when the game slows down and physicality increases. So why not ensure the Celtics’ offense will struggle, too?

“I have to continue to do that in this series,” Green said. “It’s not going to get any easier. It’s only going to get tougher. I have to take that up another couple notches.”

Therefore, do not feel surprised if Green continues to tussle with the Celtics in the air and on the ground. Do not be surprised if the rest of Green’s teammates follow suit.

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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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