PORTLAND, Ore. — As the Golden State Warriors attempt to become the first team since the 1960s Boston Celtics to go to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight season, Warriors forward Draymond Green said the group is motivated to finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals and take advantage of the nine days off before the Finals begin May 30.
“I think it’s very motivating for us to try to sweep this series and have that time off,” Green said on Sunday. “Obviously we’re a little banged up, so nine days off would be great for us. Allow Andre [Iguodala] time to heal, Shaun [Livingston]’s old — but also allow the possibility of Kevin [Durant] and DeMarcus [Cousins] to get healthy and come back as well. So I think it’s very important for us to come out tomorrow with the right mindset. We didn’t do that against the Clippers. We extended the series and all of a sudden Klay [Thompson] and Steph [Curry] was going into the Houston series questionable because of some ankle injuries they suffered in series that should have been over. And so we understand that. We got a great opportunity.”
Green knows that the Blazers aren’t going to just let the Warriors roll over them in a potential closeout game, but after coming back from double-digit deficits in the second half of each of the past two games of this series, the Warriors enter Monday night’s contest with more confidence than they’ve had all season.
“We know this team is, they’re a very resilient group,” Green said of the Blazers. “They’re not going to lay down. They have great leadership in Dame [Damian Lillard] and C.J. [McCollum] and they’re going to come out and continue to play, and play with the force that they can play with. It’s on us to make sure we can play with the right mindset and focus, that we know what it takes to close out a series, especially on the road.”
Green, who earned his seventh career postseason triple-double in Game 3 on Saturday night, has been dominant at times throughout the postseason, helping the Warriors come together after Durant suffered a calf injury in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. Green opened up about just how much his mindset changes when the postseason begins.
“When I finish the playoffs every year I’m exhausted,” Green said. “And more so mentally than physically because I view these games like life or death. Like I’ll be stressed out the entire playoffs. It’s like a life-or-death situation for me. That’s how I view it. And so when you have that mindset and you’re viewing it that way, it’s easy to raise your game because it’s bigger than just that particular game. And so there’s been times when I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m putting too much strain on myself. Too much stress on myself.’ And I can’t change it because this is the times I live for.
“This is what I enjoy most. This is what you play for, this is what you train for, to be at your best at this time of year, to try to win a championship. And so when you look at it from that standpoint, which is the way I look at it, it makes it a lot easier to step up to that challenge because you’re playing for something so much bigger than to win that game.”
Green has thrived in the postseason since entering the league in 2012, and like many on the Warriors’ roster, he acknowledged the grind of an 82-game regular season is tougher to handle after years of long playoff runs and the stress that comes with them.
“For me personally I kind of view the season in three different parts,” Green said. “You come into the season and you’re ready to go. In the league, you kind of hit that point of where, ‘All right, get me to the All-Star break.’ And then you come out of the All-Star break and you’re refreshed, and you’re ready to go again. And that works and that happens for like two weeks and then it’s like, ‘Get me to the playoffs.’ You feel like you’re getting life at each one of those moments. And for me personally once you get that new life in the playoffs, it’s the playoffs. If you got to find life again in the playoffs you’re going home. And you should. It’s the part of the year I love. It’s the part where you’re playing for all the marbles. If you can’t get up for this, what can you get up for?”
Green relayed a conversation he had with official David Guthrie during Game 3 that underscored just how much different the intensity level is when the veteran forward plays for championships.
“I was talking to David Guthrie last night and I felt like he had missed two calls,” Green said. “In the beginning of the game I said, ‘All right David, you got to wake up.’ And he said, ‘Draymond, I’m woke. Who can’t wake up for this?’ I said, ‘You’re right, but you’d be surprised at how many guys can’t. Don’t not give yourself credit for big games because everybody can’t. So that’s my mindset going into a game, it’s like, it’s the playoffs. If you can’t raise the level now why do you do this?”
Green also reiterated what he talked in depth about after Game 3 — that he got disgusted by some of his own actions in confrontations during the year and has made it a point to be less demonstrative in his actions after picking up a quick four technicals in the postseason. Seven technicals in a postseason stretch causes an automatic one game suspension. Green said one of the reasons he decided to tone down his arguments is to serve as a role model for younger kids watching the game, including his own young son. Green had reporters chuckling Sunday while discussing what it’s been like to see how his son mimics parts of the game.
“He plays on his little hoop and then stomps around,” Green said. “It’s like I like the intensity, but slow down young fella. I realize how impressionable the kids are at the ages they’re at. Just really want to be a good example for them, show them the right thing. Like my son was playing, he was shooting and flopping. I said, ‘Yeah, you got to stop watching the NBA.’ He was shooting and falling on the floor like, ‘Oh, Dada, help me up.'”