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Kurtenbach: The Warriors need Draymond Green to step up in Game 3 — but he’ll need some help

HOUSTON — It’s hard to know where to start when conducting the autopsy of the Warriors’ Game 2 loss to the Rockets — there are just so many factors to blame.
You can point to the Warriors’ one-dimensional offense or Stephen Curry’s struggles on both ends of the court.
Oh, you can pin some blame on Klay Thompson, too — he scored eight points and the Rockets shot 10-of-11 when as a primary defender Wednesday.
And you can’t forget to mention David West’s diabolical minutes, or Andre Iguodala’s performance, which was more reminiscent of a perfunctory mid-season game against the Mavericks than a potential series-deciding contest.
But one issue, for sure, was that the Warriors simply did not play with enough energy Wednesday. The Rockets entered Game 2 with a hearty dose of desperation and they funneled that emotion into dynamic play on both sides of the court.
The Warriors played like the series was decided in Game 1. And because of that, we now have a competitive Western Conference Finals.
“When you get in the playoffs with teams that are very talented and really great teams, it often comes down to which one has the edge in terms of the aggression and the desperation. They were desperate tonight and they played like it, and we didn’t. The results showed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Our defense wasn’t connected. We weren’t on the same page on a lot of plays where we got a little out of sorts.”
This is where Draymond Green comes in.
Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) warms up before the start of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Monday, May 14, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 
Green is the heartbeat of the Warriors team — he brings an infectious, positive energy to most every game he plays and that, paired with his defensive genius and underrated offensive playmaking skills, drives the Warriors forward. His emotional effect on the team cannot be quantified or, to be honest, fully understood.
Green brought an infectious energy to Game 2, but it wasn’t the positive kind. Green played with a lot of negativity and even some downright pouting on Wednesday and that manifested into turnovers on the offensive side and, as the on-court coordinator of the Warriors’ defense, a team defense that was a hot, point-conceding mess.
If the Warriors want to re-establish full control of this series on Sunday, Green cannot have a repeat performance of Game 2, particularly on the defensive end.
When Green was on the court Wednesday, the Rockets scored a gaudy — even by their lofty standards — 1.3 points per possession. The number was worse when Green was with the Hamptons Five lineup, in which he plays center.
So much of this had to do with energy — if Green is right, the Warriors’ team defense is simple and effective and he is a step or two ahead of the Rockets. On Wednesday, he was a few steps behind.
When Green was the primary defender on Rockets forwards Trevor Ariza and PJ Tucker in Game 2, he allowed the duo to score a combined 14 points on 26 possessions. The duo shot 71 percent and the Rockets scored 35 points on those possessions.
Again, there were a lot of reasons the Warriors lost Game 2, but Ariza and Tucker both outscoring Curry by knocking down wide-open corner 3-pointers was a significant one.
Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) walks off the court after being defeated by the Houston Rockets during Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The Houston Rockets defeated the Golden State Warriors 127-105. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 
The Rockets playing with five players beyond the 3-point arc was always going to be an issue for Green (and, by proxy, the Warriors defense) in this a series — Green is best when he’s in the middle of the court, playing free safety, after all — and he only exacerbated the issue on Wednesday by being over aggressive in slagging off both players.
The Warriors are ok with Ariza and Tucker getting up shots, but they don’t have to be *that* wide open.
Ultimately, the Rockets have too many spot-up shooters — there’s no one that Green can ignore as a shooter, like he did against Rajon Rondo in the last round.
Still, he’s smart enough to make those corrections — to find the right balance between his assignment and freelancing —before Game 3.
But there’s one issue Green ran into in Game 2 that he can’t fix on his own:
Green’s primary defensive mark in Game 2 — Rockets center Clint Capela — was able to demand his full attention. Green was Capela’s primary mark for 28 possessions Wednesday and while he did not score any points over Green, the Rockets scored 32 points on those possessions.
This should be a major concern for the Warriors — Capela is creating gravity around the rim and that’s preventing Green from affecting play elsewhere. He can give some space to Ariza or Tucker, but if he gives an inch to Capela in the post, the Rockets only need to throw the ball towards the general vicinity of the hoop for him to dunk it.
Starting Kevon Looney could help the Warriors with that problem — while Green is, obviously, more than capable of defending Capela, that matchup limits the impact Green can make overall. Let Looney handle the big man, and give Green a chance to do what he does best: move around and blow stuff
The good news for Warriors fans is this: Green rarely has back-to-back bad games.
If I know anything about Green, he’s fuming and scheming over Wednesday’s loss — I would bet a paycheck that he’ll treat Game 3 like it’s a Game 7.
And Green always comes up big in Game 7s.

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