NBA Finals: Draymond Green set defensive tone as Warriors raise level of physicality

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SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green glanced at the stat sheet while at the podium after the Game 1 NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

He did the math, noting how Marcus Smart, Al Horford and Derrick White were a combined 15-of-23 from 3-point range. He then pronounced: “We’ll be fine.”

The former Defensive Player of the Year was insinuating that it would be uncharacteristic for those three players to continue shooting at that clip.

He was proven correct on Sunday as the three struggled and the Warriors bounced back with a convincing 107-88 victory to even the series.

White was 2-of-4 from long distance, Smart was 0-of-3 and Horford failed to even attempt a three in 27 minutes of play.

Members of the Celtics took note of Green questioning their shooting capabilities after Game 1, league sources told Yahoo Sports. But they’ll have to wait until Wednesday to prove their Game 1 shooting wasn’t a fluke.

Green spoke to Yahoo Sports about his approach going into Game 2.

“Just meeting physicality with physicality and not letting our defense break down to where they were getting kick-out threes,” Green told Yahoo Sports after Sunday’s game. “That was my focus going in, just making sure at the point of attack that we were solid, and if you’re solid on the point of attack, you can take things away on the backside.”

Boston Celtics center Al Horford battles with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green ending in a jump ball during Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals at the Chase Center in San Francisco on June 5, 2022. (Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics center Al Horford battles with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green ending in a jump ball during Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals at the Chase Center in San Francisco on June 5, 2022. (Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Boston’s Jayson Tatum supplied a team-high 28 points, but had a game-worst minus-36.

Green set the tone defensively from his tenacious on-ball smothering to playing the free safety slot and blitzing.

Horford didn’t mince words about Green’s defensive night.

“I mean, he’s going to do what he does. We’re not worried about him,” Horford said during postgame. “We’re going to do what we do, and focus on us. We just didn’t get it done tonight. We’ll be better at home in Game 3.”

Green stated that upping their level of physicality was key in Game 2 as the Warriors held the Celtics to 37.5% shooting from the field, but they shot 40.5% from 3-point range.

Horford downplayed that heightened physicality factored into losing the game.

“I don’t know if they raised it, whatever that is,” Horford said. “I just think that we just weren’t good enough tonight, especially in that third. But I don’t think it has to do anything with that.”

Neither player was apparently in the complimenting mood.

Horford was 6-for-8 from three in Game 1 and finished the game with a team-high 26 points. He scored two points in Game 2.

“They did a good job of staying with me,” Horford said. “For example, obviously I didn’t get an attempt, not even a look. So they did a good job making sure they took me away. I just have to find other ways to impact the game, and that’s something that I’ll do [in] Game 3.”

As the series shifts to Boston, Green shared the message he preached after the big win.

“Stay focused and staying locked in is my message to the guys,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “They came and won one game but ultimately for us, we know that’s a part of it. We gotta go on the road and win one anyway. So, they did their job and now we gotta do ours.”

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