New Draymond Green steering Golden State Warriors' run | News Coverage from USA

New Draymond Green steering Golden State Warriors’ run

PORTLAND, Ore. — There is a new Draymond Green on the floor it seems, calmer, more focused, and quite possibly steering the Golden State Warriors to a third consecutive NBA championship.

So what does the new Green think of the old one?

“Disgusting,” he said.

Green’s performance in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers was notable not only because it put the Warriors at 3-0 and within a single victory of a fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. On occasions where he might typically have railed against the referees, it was distinct and noticeable that Green kept his cool.

But why? And why now?

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“I realized I had got to a point where I was doing more crying than playing,” he said. “I am sure it was disgusting to watch because I felt disgusting playing that way. I just wanted to lock back in on the game. I understand that officials are not perfect and I still have conversations with them now when they miss a call but it is a completely different conversation.”

With Kevin Durant still out injured, the Warriors have been forced to adapt heavily. Stephen Curry’s scoring and shooting have been ignited, Klay Thompson has surged, and Green has provided energy and poise at both ends of the floor.

“The stat line is ridiculous,” said Thompson, reflecting on Green’s 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals, which helped Golden State overturn a 13-point half-time deficit to win going away, 110-99 at the Moda Center. “Doing it on both ends. But it is nothing new. I have seen him do it for seven years. He is a like a second point guard out there and relieves a lot of pressure off of me and Steph. He makes us go, but knowing Dray, he is probably not satisfied.”

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However, it might be the little things Green is doing that are making the bigger difference. When youngster Jordan Bell got over-excited on a breakaway and missed a dunk attempt with the team trailing by eight in the third quarter, it was Green who singled him out for kindly words of encouragement. On the final play of a disappointing first half, it was Green who drove strongly and directly for the basket to ensure the deficit was made that little bit more manageable.

And when calls went in a manner he didn’t necessarily approve of, there was none of the ranting and theatrics that had become his trademark of sorts.

“I think it definitely helps the energy,” Green admitted. “I still like to pick and choose my spots. Sometime I may take a (technical foul). That’s more mindful than just getting a tech. Sometimes I know we need an energy burst, maybe I will take one. Sometimes I am not mindful and that just kills the energy of my team.

“My mom has been really big and my fiancée (Hazel Renee) has been really big in just talking to me and telling me to stay locked in on the game. I also have some little ones at the house that’s enjoying watching me play, I don’t necessarily want them to see that.”

Green’s mother has a wonderfully direct and often highly-amusing brand of straight talking. She told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears recently that her pre-game motivation texts have recently shifted from encouragement to pleas for a more mature approach.

“When they first started the series and everybody started complaining about the refs and saying they were dominating the game, I told Dray, ‘Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing,’” Mary Babers-Green said to Spears. “Don’t worry about that. Your job out there is to stay on the floor.’” 

The Warriors have found flow and rhythm since Durant went down hurt, winning that Game 5 against the Houston Rockets without him, closing out that series thereafter, and now rattling off three straight against Portland to set things up perfectly for yet another tilt at the title whenever their most prolific scorer returns.

Green’s teammates have always seen the value of letting him do his thing, but are liking his more measured approach.

“That’s huge just in terms of keeping the focus on what we can control,” Curry said. “Calls are going to go a certain way. You can waste energy all you want talking to refs. I have never in the history of the league seen a ref change a call because somebody was arguing it.

“It has been nice. The first round everyone was talking about how many techs he had. He has done an amazing job just blocking all that out and playing basketball.”

Playing basketball is what the Warriors are doing at a remarkably high and productive level. Their next target is to close out Portland in four games, quickly, efficiently and with a minimum of fuss. Much like how Green — the new one, not the one he found disgusting — is going about his business.

Follow Martin Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno.

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