The NBA Finals: How Draymond got his swagger back and what it means for Game 6

At the 9:00 mark of the first quarter, Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics leisurely made a pass meant for teammate Jaylen Brown.

Unbeknownst to him, Draymond Green was hiding nearby, and the Green does not have a single lazy bone in his body.

In the end, he comes empty-handed. But the full house at the Chase Center roared anyway. The Golden State Warriors player they fell in love with over the past decade is finally starting to shine again.

It doesn’t look like he’s a doppelgänger after all. Mrs. Babers.

Draymond Green, NBA Finals

After an epicly slow start to the series, Green ended up in Game 5 (before eventually fouling).

In the process of his rediscovery, two pieces stand out in particular.

However, to fully understand the importance of these sequences, we need Secret base and do some rewinding.

Green is a fantastic player. He finished second on our D-DRIP metric (which shows a player’s contribution to a team’s plus or minus per 100 defensive possessions), and he was the clear favorite for NBA Defensive Player of the Year before falling with a back injury midway through. in a year.

However, as I wrote previously in the playoffs, unless you’re a great player of all time, your influence can fluctuate a lot depending on your matchup.

“In the right match, a player can dominate to the point where you wonder why he or she didn’t get more praise and recognition in the first place. Catch this man in the wrong match and you might feel the need hang posters of the missing with his or her image and likeness smeared on them everywhere.

So it was with Green. Throughout the series, much of the discussion has centered around the Celtics’ tactical decisions to protect Stephen Curry.

Most of the Celtics’ first four games were credited drop cover on screens with a Curry ball, unlike hedging/blitzing he is accustomed to seeing in the past.

This strategy requires Boston to concede scoring to Curry in favor of holding back Warriors assists such as Green’s patented short-throw pass. The lack of two balls on Curry means there will be no more automatic 4v3 situations for Greene, effectively neutralizing one of his greatest strengths: his ability to quickly spot and exploit an advantage.

That’s why the first clip is so important. Late in Game 4, Boston finally succumbed to Curry’s ridiculous shooting (30.6 ppg on 60.4% shooting) and began following the defensive status quo again.

Green’s 4-on-3 return example:

The second clip requires a bit more psychological analysis to interpret.

You see, Green’s offensive struggle led him to humiliate himself. And like all of us, when our confidence drops, he starts to get a little timid.

This thrill led to a reduction in the aggressive, defensive-bending gameplay that he became known for as an author. Instead, those best shots have been replaced with your various “Rondo Assists” (simple passes that don’t break defense) and Simmons-style passes (ironically, Green actually put on his best game). Simmons impersonation in game 5).

This brings us to the second clip. In this play we see Green grab the ball as it goes out of bounds, establish himself in the paint, mesmerize the defense with a look at Payton, and then laser pass to Man of the Hour Andrew Wiggins.

His newfound confidence was reflected in his performance.

Two of his three field goals that night came in last-round returns against the Dallas Mavericks.

  • First clip: The signature counter when teams replay with the Warriors’ dribbling pass (leading two defensemen to Curry) is that Green executes the goalie variation and takes him to the end zone himself. Also, kudos to Steve Jones Jr. for pointing out that the logic behind Otto Porter Jr.’s move to the starting XI was to ensure that Williams was the one who guarded Green on the screens.
  • Third clip: Green astutely determines that Derrick White has broken protocol without weakening him, so he makes White pay for breaking the rules with a tear from heaven.

The NBA title is still within reach of the Celtics, but winning two in a row against this rambunctious group is much less certain when a rejuvenated Green is back in the fold. The Celtics have to make Green’s Game 5 an aberration, and they’ll have to rely on their offense to do so.

Even with his success, the Warriors shot with just a 105.5 attack rating when he was on the floor in Game 5, more than 14.5 points off their season-end average.

In the end, it was their defense that secured the win (93.6 defensive rating with Green on the court). To get revenge, the Celtics must pick up the pacenot too much get hung up on Curry and Jordan Pool hunting for matches and doubling down on the spacing formula that was so important to their win in Game 3.

This will raise their offensive rating and may tempt Steve Kerr into making a decision similar to the one he made in game 4 – Bench Green in favor of more attacks.

It worked for Golden State last time, but how long can you play consistently without a second-best player on the floor? Who will say what. If you’re from Boston, you’ll still have to try to tie Kerr’s hand. At the end of the day, the playoffs are all about poking around until you find the right attack hole.

Will the Celtics find that hole before the streak ends? We’ll get an answer soon.

Graphic design by Matt Cisneros.

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