BOSTON — The sand that often wears the Warriors on the streets was there only occasionally on Wednesday night, and that wasn’t nearly enough.
Not when the Celtics spent most of the evening playing like a pack of energetic Draymond Greens while Draymond himself did not.
And he knows it. Draymond was asked to assess his performance after the Warriors suffered a 116-100 loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night.
“How s—t,” he said.
The thoughts of an anxious dub nation crashed onto Draymond’s mouth in bright colors – and without a nanosecond’s hesitation. His honesty is refreshing and appreciated.
Under the circumstances, it’s also disturbing to hear that the Warriors are now two games to one behind in the best-of-seven series.
The season has reached June, the only month that really matters to Draymond. And this is the NBA Finals, the phase that decides whether the season was a success or a failure. Draymond likes to cite the differences between what he calls 82-game players and 16-game players to distinguish good players from great players.
He’s a certified 16-gamer, someone who lives for the number of post-season wins it takes to win an NBA championship. And with the Warriors needing a win at TD Garden to take the lead in the series and three for another Larry O’Brien trophy, it’s confusing, even disappointing, to see Draymond underperforming.
His inability to muster at least one solid game when the Boston crowd pelts him with banal (“Draymond sucks! Draymond sucks!) and profane chants (“F— you, Draymond”) is quite alarming.
It’s enough to wonder how many times, at 32, Draymond can summon the high-speed game that made him a star.
His numbers in Game 3 were brutal. He fouled on two points, four rebounds, three assists, a block, and two turnovers. Draymond was passed by all five Boston starters, one of his reserves, Grant Williams, who auditions for the role of Draymond’s foil in three finals games.
But Draymond at his best usually has an impact that eclipses his stats. The impact and presence that drives the Warriors could not be seen.
“I just think I never found a rhythm, really on either end of the floor,” Green said. “Not enough power. But I just need to find a rhythm faster.
“I was soft. That was the most disappointing for me and for us.”
With a decent play from Draymond, the Warriors are likely to win Game 3. They scored ample points from Stephen Curry (31 points) and Klay Thompson (25), who combined for 25 during a third-quarter surge, giving them a glimmer of hope.
Trailing 18 midway through the second quarter, Golden State used its typical third-quarter rally to take a brief lead — before producing a disastrous fourth quarter in which they were outplayed 23-11.
The Warriors, with the exception of the third quarter, were overrun throughout the court. They were passed 47-31, beaten in color (52-26) and second chance points (22-11). They were at the end of most 50-50 balls.
These are the sorts of shortcomings that Draymond generally notes and addresses. He did not do it. Can he in game 4?
“He had a tough game but I trust Draymond as much as anyone,” said coach Steve Kerr. “You know, he always recovers individually from losses and from rough nights. He will be back on Friday.”
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Klay was even more explicit in his belief that something good is coming.
“I have all the faith in the world in Draymond Green,” he said. “I consider him a brother and we played together on the mountaintop and played in big, big battles. As long as I see him and 30 (Curry) and Andre (Iguodala) and our young bucks I really think we’re going to have a great night Friday night.”
Draymond will decide that. A loss put the Warriors at a 3-1 hole, while a win reclaims home field advantage and reignites their chances for another championship.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Draymond, who was impressive in one of the opening three games Game 2, can bring the best of himself in the games to come.
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