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The storyline with the Golden State Warriors all season has been that their original “big three” was back.
After two years of injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State was finally whole again, able to play the brand of basketball NBA fans had grown to love.
Warriors forward Draymond Green has been the unquestioned voice of the organization since the start of its run, a do-it-all defensive stopper tasked with allowing the Warriors to go small in order to play their style of basketball.
It’s what made the sight of Green sitting on the bench during crunch time of Game 4 in the NBA Finals such a strange sight.
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Golden State head coach Steve Kerr sat Green with 7:32 remaining in the game and the Boston Celtics up 90-86,
“We took him out and put Loon [Kevon Looney] in, I think, around the eight-minute mark maybe, which was our plan anyway,” Kerr said in his postgame press conference. “But Loon was playing so well and Jordan Poole was playing so well, so we just stayed with the group .
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“We generally do that. Like most coaches, if you’ve got a group that’s going well, you just stay with it. The last few minutes we just went to kind of an offense-defense pattern with Draymond and Jordan alternating.”
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Over the next four minutes, with Green on the bench, Golden State went on a run and led 97-94 when Green reentered the with 3:41 remaining in the game.
“Definitely never thrilled coming out of the game with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter in a must-win game,” Green said when asked about being pulled. “I’m not going to sit here and act like I was thrilled. I’m a competitor. But, at the end of the day, if that’s what the coach decides then you roll with it.
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“I had to keep my head in the game and, whenever I went back in, try and make some plays.”
Green did make plays, grabbing three rebounds and adding two assists after his return.
“I don’t ever want our players to be happy when I take them out,” Kerr said of sitting Green. “Draymond is incredibly competitive. I didn’t see any reaction. He’s the ultimate competitor. Came back in, made huge plays down the stretch. Finished the game with four steals, eight assists, nine boards.
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“This is a tough series for him to score because of Boston’s size and athleticism. But he’s still impacting the game at a huge level. And he knows we’re just going to do whatever it takes to win. We’ve got a lot of guys who can contribute. A lot of guys did that tonight, and, you know, we got it done. And whatever it takes in Game 5, that’s what we’ll do too.”
Green has struggled offensively throughout the Finals, scoring just 17 points in the first four games of the series. And yet, he’s still the heartbeat, playing a key role in the return of Golden State to the game’s grandest stage.
“I’ve always been on the bandwagon of, if you got something and it’s rolling, you stick with it,” Green said. “It is what it is.”