Strength in numbers, indeed. If it isn’t Steph, it’s Klay. If it isn’t Klay, it’s Andre. If it isn’t Andre, well, Sunday night, when the Warriors looked like the greatest basketball team in the history of the universe — hey, what’s a little exaggeration among admirers? — it was Draymond.
Yes, the NBA’s bad boy. The guy who’s never afraid to make the game a kick in the pants, if you’ll pardon an expression; the forward who’s a center — when he isn’t a guard.
Maybe Steph Curry is the face of the NBA, but Draymond Green is the heart of the Warriors, goading, urging, defending or as in Game 2 of this so-far-noncompetitive NBA final, shooting.
The Cavaliers thought they knew the secret. Shut down Curry and Klay Thompson. Put everybody on them except Tyronn Lue — the Cleveland coach — and the trainer. What they forgot, or maybe never knew, was to shut down and not to mention shut up Green. Swish.
Look, the finals aren’t over. The Cavs are only (only?) down two-nothing in the best of seven series. Cleveland’s going home, and despite getting destroyed, 110-77 at Oracle, could come back to the Bay all even. Could, but won’t.
The Warriors are a team in full flight, defending, running, rebounding, shooting, romping. “The crazy thing,” said Curry, “is we all can play better.” Now wouldn’t that be fascinating?
Green was the anointed one. And for so much of the game, the open one. The Cavs do have an offense. Defense? Who do you think they are, the Thunder or the Spurs? Cleveland decided to stop the “Splash Brothers.” Splish, splash, they ended up taking a bath because of Mr. Green.
“Coach Kerr texted me [Saturday) night,” Green said postgame, “and said, ‘This is a great series for you. Take the rhythm shot when they are there, step up and knock them down.’ I hesitated on the first to start the game, and [assistant coach] Luke Walton told me, ‘If you hesitate again, we have a problem.’ “
No more hesitation. No problem. A game-high 28 points (10 more than Curry, 11 more than Thompson, nine more than that LeBron James fellow).
Kerr smiled a lot and blanched once. “The only one I didn’t love,” he said of the Green shots, “was the one off the dribble from the top of the key.” It went in, of course.
Green is a basketball player. He’ll jump over you, drive through you. Every game, he’s the emotional leader. This game, he was the scoring leader. And not a Flagrant 2 technical within hailing distance.
“My teammates trust me to take those shots,” said Green. He was 5-for-8 on 3s. That’s Curryesque. That’s Thomsonesque. That’s fantastic.
“I mean,” said Green, “it’s just a matter of whether I’m going knock the shot or miss the shot.”
That pretty much covers all the options, doesn’t it?
“Klay actually did a great job of finding me a few times there to get me going. He drove and kicked [it out] and their defense was collapsing and I was able to knock the shots down.”
Curry, to be fair to Steph, was in foul trouble and played just 24 minutes. But that’s where the slogan becomes reality. Somebody else on the roster must fill in. Green did just that.
When someone told Green he looked like Curry, Draymond rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell me that. Steve Kerr wouldn’t like you if you tell me I’m channeling my inner Steph Curry.”
Ah, but the rest of us would love it.