Draymond Green showed against Suns why GSW is a team to beat

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 3: Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors enjoys the fourth quarter of a 118-6 victory over the Phoenix Suns, on Friday December 3, 2019, at the Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon / Group of bay area news)

Draymond Green wasn’t very good the first time the Warriors and Suns played this week.

So Friday night at the Chase Center, he was the top player on the field for Golden State in one of the Dubs’ most impressive wins of this exceptionally impressive season.

By now you should know that the box score can’t sum up everything Green does to affect the victory on the basketball court, and Friday night’s 118-96 victory was the perfect example – although the box score numbers looked pretty good.

Green has shown, once again, why the Warriors dominated the Western Conference for half a decade and why they could be the favorites again after a two-year hiatus in the playoffs.

With him leading the Warriors’ offense and defense, Golden State is in good hands. He’s too smart to make the same mistakes two games in a row.

Put some top talent with that kind of basketball intelligence and lead in a seven game streak and you have the Warriors playoff record in Steve Kerr’s day.

Friday night was one of Green’s best games of the season. I said the box score didn’t matter, but he finished the contest two blocks away from the much-vaunted five-by-five, which has only been done 22 times in history. of the NBA. Green last accomplished the feat in 2015.

Green had nine points, nine rebounds, nine assists, six steals and three blocks against the Suns.

Equally important, he only had two turnovers in the game and put the bridles on Suns center DeAndre Ayton.

Green is quite simply the best defenseman in the NBA right now, bar none. And in a season (but maybe not last night’s game) where the refs correct past mistakes and give defenders more leeway to actually, you know, defend, have a player like Green who, as a defensive anchor, should prove invaluable to the Dubs for the remainder of the season and, most importantly, the afterlife.

After all, that’s beyond where Green does his best job.

Friday night’s Warriors-Suns game felt like the playoffs, as did Tuesday’s game in Phoenix. The top two teams in the NBA faced off for the second time in a week – for the Warriors, they were back-to-back games against the same elite opponent.

Here’s an unsavory truth about the NBA: You rarely see the two teams fighting really hard in a regular season game. Even rarer, both teams have bespoke defensive game plans for an opponent and a contest. Sure, there are some keys to defense that coaches and players talk about before a game, but most of the time those keys are thrown out the window when the game begins. The vast majority of NBA regular season games are two teams playing their games, regardless of the other team on the court, and just finding out who has the most points in the end.

However, the Warriors and Suns did not play that kind of game on Tuesday or Friday. No, there was pride involved and both teams clearly did extra preparation and had an extra desire to win ahead of both competitions.

It was, in a strange way (and to some extent, an unfair way too, given that Phoenix was scheduled to play Detroit on Thursday in Arizona), a series – a preview of an alleged Western Conference final.

And now you should also know that Green doesn’t make the same mistakes twice in a series.

Let’s start with Green’s formidable offensive performance:

On Tuesday, Green was passive on the offensive end of the field. He didn’t control the tempo or pace of the game as the hub of the Warriors’ offense – he didn’t attack the Suns – so Chris Paul, his point guard counterpart in Phoenix, was able to control the contest. Paul resumed the game late, slowed the pace of the competition until there was a fine powder, and put the Suns in the best position to win, which they did, even without the wing featured Devin Booker.

Green watched this game and adjusted. From Friday’s jump, he was pushing. He not only moved the ball into the half court with added enthusiasm – going full Kevin Love with a chest pass almost all over the court in the second half – but he also took up space when he didn’t. not the ball.

Teams are always going to get rid of Green – he’s not a shooter defenses have to respect on the perimeter. But Green doesn’t have to stay on the Warriors’ offensive perimeter. It might not be a pick-and-roll offense, but there are plenty of screens and – when it works best – countless cuts.

So we saw Green cut to the basket over and over and over again on Friday. He spent a lot of time in painting, where his effectiveness as a passer was not affected.

The real key to Green’s big game and the Warriors’ victory was that the No.23 played without hesitation on Friday. He was decisive in his passes – even the daring attempts – and when he received the ball after one of those cuts he immediately found a pass or handed the ball over.

Green finished the game 6 on 8 from the floor, including a big 3 points, but it was his aggressiveness on offense that opened the game for the Warriors. He was playing fast and the Warriors and Suns had no choice but to call.

Dub stars may be getting old, but Golden State still needs to play as fast as possible. Yes, there is the downside of turnovers, but Green and Curry thrive in chaos and the Warriors front office has done a wonderful job this past offseason finding players with high basketball IQs who can handle the scrum.

But for the Warriors to play their best, Green needs to be the master of the tempo, the accelerator. It was just that Friday.

And defensively, he turned into a masterpiece.

In the Warriors’ super-switching defense, the Dubs don’t exactly have marks, but you can see the defensive focus shift between Tuesday and Friday.

On Tuesday, Green spent less than half his time in the field guarding Ayton. The big man was successful with the Dubs in the game, especially as a passer, but he scored six points against Green.

In fact, Green spent more than a quarter of his defense time on Tuesday keeping Paul on the perimeter. Paul only scored once against him and the Suns had an offensive rating below 100 during those minutes.

But that’s not Green’s best use – no, he has to be down, where he can protect both the big man (or men) and the team’s defense quarterback.

Sure enough, Green defended Ayton on more than half of the possessions on Friday when both players were on the field. He only threw at Paul for 30 seconds, in total, in-game, according to the NBA’s Second Specter stats database.

The Suns couldn’t do anything against him.

Ayton was 2 for 6 from the floor with two turnovers, two stolen balls on entry passes and a blocked shot against when defended by Green Friday. Overall, the Suns went 2 for 12 from the floor when Draymond defended them.

There were a number of heroes from Friday’s game. Andrew Wiggins was wonderful on both sides of the field, and energetic players Nemanja Bjelica, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Gary Payton II turned the game around in the second half. This Steph Curry guy also had a good game.

But it was Green who once again set the tone for the Warriors on both sides of the pitch. We saw Draymond’s playoffs – smart, tenacious, driven – in December. It was a spectacular sight.

It was also a reminder of why the Warriors are 100% for real.

We spent so much time trying to figure out what that little extra something was that helped the Warriors send so many teams through their playoffs through the Dynastic years.

It’s pride – the fact that the best players in the Warriors, Curry, Klay Thompson, and most importantly Green, will hold themselves to a higher standard than anyone in the building. They don’t just want to win, they expect to win. That’s why losses bring out the best in those players in the next game.

This pride is the reason you can’t kill Dubs in a seven game streak unless the conditions are right.

And while it’s only a long time until the playoffs start, we saw that pride in spades on Friday. Remember what it looks like – we’ll be seeing a lot more in the spring.

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