Draymond Green and Steve Kerr have the right reaction to the fourth-quarter decision


Draymond Green and Steve Kerr have the right reaction to the fourth-quarter decision

BOSTON – Draymond Green is driven by competitiveness. It’s the key ingredient that made him so successful at Michigan State and what transformed a former second-round draft pick tagged as a tweener into a future Hall of Famer with three championship rings to his name, currently up for one fourth-place NBA Finals fights the Boston Celtics.

That same fire is why Green was less than pleased to be knocked out 7-23 in Game 4 of the Finals on Friday night in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 107-97 win over the Celtics at TD Garden.

“I’m definitely never thrilled to go out with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter in a game you absolutely must win,” Green told reporters after the win. “I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m thrilled. I am a competitor.

“But at the end of the day, if the coach decides that, then roll with it. I had to keep my head in the game and always try to make a few games when I came back. That was just my way of thinking. You know, don’t make too much of it. I’ve always been on the train, if you’ve got something and it’s going, you stick with it.

“Well, it is what it is.”

The Warriors were down 91-86 when coach Steve Kerr decided to replace Green and Nemanja Bjelica with Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins. By that point, Green had scored two points, was 1-for-7 off the field, and it was clear Golden State needed an offensive spark.

Draymond didn’t bring that with him.

Through the ups and downs, wins and losses, Kerr has always trusted the heartbeat of the Warriors. That honor belongs to Green. Kerr also had to trust his gut and trust that Draymond would respond appropriately when he returned to the game.

Golden State went on an 11-3 run and took a 97-94 lead over the next four minutes. Celtics coach Ime Udoka tried to calm the storm and called for a time-out to seek answers on Boston’s home ground. Kerr’s response was to return to Green.

“We took him out and put Loon in at about the eight minute mark, which was our plan anyway,” Kerr explained. “But Loon played so well and Jordan Poole played so well, so we just stayed with the group.

“We generally do that. Like most coaches, when you have a group that’s going well, you just stick with it.

On his return, Green snagged a rebound off a missed 3-pointer from Jayson Tatum. Kerr called timeout and the Green Poole pattern was active. The Warriors defensive star was benched in favor of more offense and Draymond returned 17 seconds later.

He didn’t sit back until there were just 56.1 seconds left. The Warriors were up 102-97 by then.

In that span, Draymond dished out two assists – resulting in five big points – and snagged a huge offensive rebound from a missed 3-pointer from Klay Thompson before hitting Looney under the basket with a perfect pass.

Playing the final 47.7 seconds of the win, Green secured another offensive rebound. The Warriors scored 10 points and conceded just three when Draymond came back from his four-minute break.

“I never want our players to be happy if I knock them out,” Kerr said. “Draymond is incredibly competitive. I didn’t see any reaction. But he is the ultimate competitor. Came back.

“Look, because of Boston’s size and athleticism, it’s a tough streak for him to score, but he’s still affecting the game at a tremendous level. And he knows we’ll do whatever it takes to win. We have many people who can contribute. A lot of people did that tonight, and you know, we did it. And whatever is required in Game 5, we will do that too.

For most of Friday night’s competition, it looked like this would be a second straight performance for Draymond to forget. He landed at the highest level with nine rebounds — five offensive and four defensive — eight assists and four steals. Those four steals are his most of those playoffs and saw him overtake Gary Payton and Andre Iguodala for sole possession of 25th on the NBA’s all-time playoff steal list with 218.

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Kerr and Green are in their eighth season together. They laughed, they turned the volume up nose-to-nose, and they shared countless hugs. This is their sixth trip to the finals and they are both willing to do anything to win.

These two trust each other, they love each other. All that matters is the bottom line in favor of the Warriors and they both made sure that was the result to keep their seasons alive.

On Monday night at the Chase Center, Kerr and Green will once again do whatever it takes for the Warriors to win Game 5 again. This is the true test of trust, the true test of love.

When it mattered, both passed their biggest test of the season with flying colors.

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