Green back for Warriors, still ‘getting his wind’

SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors were hoping that Draymond Green‘s return would give the team a defensive edge it has been missing since the start of the regular season. Green missed most of training camp, all three preseason games and the first four regular-season games because of a combination of following league COVID-19 protocols, a foot injury and a desire to get his conditioning in order. The Warriors figured Green’s intensity would spark them in Friday night’s home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers.

That was not the case. Green, who went 0-for-3 from the field in 18 minutes, looked uneven in short spurts as the Trail Blazers dominated the Warriors 123-98 inside Chase Center.

“Draymond just looks like he’s getting his wind,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “He looked like a guy who missed training camp and has been working his way to get onto the floor. It looked like an exhibition-style game for him; and that’s not a criticism, it’s just where he is physically. He got a really tough break coming into the season with the COVID protocols, and so it’s going to take him some time. I’m glad to have him back, and he needs a few games under his belt to get that conditioning and that rhythm, but there’s no question it’s going to take some time.”

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry, who didn’t get to play with Green much last season after breaking his hand in the fourth game of the year, echoed Kerr’s sentiments, while acknowledging that there was a comfort level in being able to play together again.

“We have a couple weird little routines before the jump ball that it was nice to kind of get back to,” Curry said. “We haven’t gotten in a lot of reps in a long time, so it’s going to take some games to kind of get our rhythm back and understand how he’s going to be extremely impactful, especially on the offensive end, and find those looks. We just need everybody available to keep going through these lumps early and try to find our way and find our identity. And for me and him, we got to be able to lead that.”

Warriors rookie center James Wiseman, who, like Green, missed a chunk of camp while following league COVID-19 protocols, praised Green for continuing to give the No. 2 overall pick “great information” about the game.

“Just like his presence alone, just like his aura, just like as a person is really great,” Wiseman said. “He has a strong personality, so I feel like that’s going to bring a lot of energy toward the team and it’s going to impact us in a positive way.”

Wiseman tweaked his left ankle late in Friday’s loss, but Kerr expects the rookie big man to play in Sunday’s game against the Trail Blazers. The Warriors also announced that forward Alen Smailagic has a right meniscus tear and will have surgery in the coming days.

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