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Draymond Green Drags the Warriors Back Into the Fight


SAN FRANCISCO — There is a line. Draymond Green knows the line well at this stage of his career. Sometimes he uses his arms and elbows and vocal cords to push right up against the line. And there are other occasions when he enthusiastically tramples all over it.

How Green treats the line depends on the circumstances, but also on his mood. The line might help him focus his emotions today, then constrain him too much tomorrow. On Sunday, though, as he sought to lead the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the N.B.A. finals, he seemed to act as if the line did not even exist. And if he was to go over it? Well, Green was willing to take that risk.

“We need that energy,” he said. “For me to sit back and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to push it to this edge and try to pull back,’ that don’t work. I’ve got to be me.”

Green being himself meant lunging for a steal before the game was 13 seconds old, forcing a jump ball with Al Horford of the Boston Celtics. Green being himself meant plowing to the basket for his first points and flexing his biceps. Green being himself meant getting called for a technical foul a few minutes later.

But it also meant playing relentless defense and throwing his weight around and urging his teammates to do the same: to be more assertive, more physical and more determined. By the end of the night, his body of work — however polarizing his behavior — helped clear the path for Golden State’s 107-88 victory, which tied the finals at a game apiece before Game 3 on Wednesday in Boston.

“I think everybody played with more force,” Green said, adding, “It was across the board.”

“I don’t know what I was supposed to do there,” Brown said. “Somebody got their legs on the top of your head, and then he tried to pull my pants down. I don’t know what that was about. But that’s what Draymond Green does. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. He’ll pull you, he’ll you grab you, he’ll try to muck the game up because that’s what he does for their team. It’s nothing to be surprised about.”

The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum went so far as to express his “love” for the way in which Green goes about his business, though it might be worth revisiting how Tatum feels in another week. The Celtics shot 37.5 percent overall in Game 2, and the Warriors outscored then by 36 points when Tatum was on the court. The Celtics scored their fewest points since Dec. 29, when their record was 16-19.

“We knew we had to come with a much better focus and sense of aggression, and I thought that started right from the beginning,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. “Draymond played a huge role in that.”

That Green did so while attempting only five field goals in 35 minutes was fairly predictable. Instead, he sent backdoor passes to teammates for layups. He reached for deflections. He channeled his inner fullback to set screen after screen for Curry. And he might as well have used duct tape to affix himself to Brown, who shot 5 of 17 from the field while trying to keep his shorts on.

“I think we’re in a great mental space,” Green said. “Nobody panicked. Everybody stayed the course. And we ultimately knew if we go out and play our game, we put ourselves right back in position to take control of the series.”



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