The Draymond Green effect has Warriors ahead 2-0 on Pelicans in series
The first two games of the West semifinals between the Warriors and Pelicans have differed vastly in aesthetics and in point differential, but the constant has been Draymond Green. Contrary to Kerr’s typical rotations, Green has started at center, which is especially significant because of Anthony Davis. What’s more is the success he’s had in the matchup, but to everyone’s surprise, Green has been the best player overall in this series.
Kerr’s decision to start Draymond in the first place such a surprise to me. I thought Green at the 5 would be their last card to play (and maybe it was), but clearly they feared Davis dominating and creating a rhythm early in the series. Without Curry in game 1, Green was left to supplant Steph’s duties on offense. He pushed the pace, kept the ball jumping and facilitated every trip down the court.
It was clear that they wanted to outrun the Pelicans and try to tire them out. The Pels showed their aggressiveness on defense against the Portland’s half court prominent offense, but Golden State’s system does not compare. When the Pelican’s defense swings around so quickly, it inevitably gives up an opening that the Dubs can capitalize on.
With the lead ballooning so dramatically in Game 1, the Pelicans we’ve seen for the last 2 months didn’t make an appearance. But in Game 2, the pace was much more in favor of New Orleans. They fed Davis way more in the paint, forcing Golden State to play Draymond 40 minutes (he played 30 minutes in G1). The extended minutes from Green certainly played into NOLA’s hands as well, as he’s the player they could conceivably crack. This is a different Draymond though.
Green’s seen the success he’s contributed to this team, but he’s also seen the way he can become a detriment. This season, he’s been locked in. Balancing the hype with focus is something Green has mastered. It’s also what the Pelicans tried to test him on. Rajon Rondo was being a pest for the whole 48. Body bumping, shit talking, and even wiping his sweat off on the ball in between Green’s attempts. But still Green stayed poised.
What really stood out was Davis’ attempts to poke the bear. After the two hit the floor on a rebound opportunity, which looked like two simultaneous flops, Davis locked Greens arm using his leg, causing the two to barrel down the court in a wrestling style barrel roll. This is something I’ve just never seen out of Davis, and maybe that’s a good thing, a sign he’s trying to establish himself. Maybe it’s his teammates pushing him to get chippy.
Draymond’s emotional self control directly contributes to his teams wins, and his overall game. The stressors that were prevalent the last three years are gone, and it’s made the game much easier too. The Playoffs are all about adjustments, because of the number of times you face a single team. Green is seeing it all with a much clearer mind, and his team is following his lead.