CHASE CENTER — On the day that Stephen Curry underwent hand surgery, knocking him out for at least three months, the Golden State Warriors’ only other championship veteran, Draymond Green, went down with a sprained left index finger.
Sporting a bandage around his left index finger during his postgame press conference following a 127-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Green said he’d suffered a “ligament thing,” and did not know his status for Saturday night’s game against the Charlotte Hornets.
The 6-foot-6 forward, who will turn 30 in March, fought through a multitude of injuries over the last two seasons. With Curry now out and priorities shifting towards development, it’s unlikely the Warriors march Green out with a bad hand on back-to-back. Head coach Steve Kerr said before the game that he doesn’t intend to grind Green down with Curry out.
Green dealt with a nerve issue in his right elbow in the season opener against the Clippers, and got elbowed in the back on Wednesday, forcing him out for the final two minutes of the first half after his yelping got him a technical.
“I definitely don’t want to drive him to the 40-minute mark,” Kerr said. “That’s too much. We have back-to-back and play again tomorrow. We’ll just sort of take it game-by-game and see how he’s doing.”
On Friday, Green turned in the type of game typically expected from him at his best, pulling down eight rebounds, dishing out seven assists and adding a steal in 35 minutes.
“Draymond is the heart beat,” said Damion Lee, who, in his second year with the team and third NBA season, is the most-senior healthy Warrior after Green. “If we have four all-stars out there or just him out there, he will always continue to bring that spirit and bring that energy. He encourages guys, guys are going to make mistakes … I definitely am trying to take some of that load off of Draymond’s back and help talk to guys and bring everybody along.”
Kerr had said that he hoped Green would be able to help shore up a defense that came into the night worst in the NBA (and allowed Patty Mills to score 31, his first 30-point game since Feb. 8, 2014). Green was minus-16 on the night, second only to Alec Burks and Eric Paschall, both of whom finished minus-20.
To shield what’s expected to be the worst defense of the Kerr era, Golden State deployed a zone defense at different points of the game, and will likely continue going forward. If Green — whose greatest virtue is that he can defend all five positions and is tenacious on the ball — has to miss time, it may be the only answer to hide poor defenders like D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Poole.
“I’m sure we’ll play more zone as the year goes on,” Kerr said. “Something that we’ve worked on a little bit at camp in the early part of the season, and just a good way to mix up the defense, and maybe catch a team off-balance a little bit. We didn’t have great success with it tonight, but something that we will probably continue to use.”