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How Draymond Green’s epiphany has helped the Warriors

PORTLAND — Draymond Green watched himself in the corner of the screen during team film sessions when nobody else did. He became disgusted with what he repeatedly saw, a player at times slouching, pouting and complaining to officials.
As transcendent of a talent that Green is, a surefire Hall of Famer, he’s been known too for the extracurriculars – complaining, kicking, making a scene.
He specifically remembers a game during the regular season this year when he verbally sparred with referee Zach Zarba.
“After the game, it was just like, ‘Wow, that was embarrassing,'” Green said Sunday.
Green, too, realized that Draymond Green Jr., now two and a half years old, picked up on his dad’s behavior. Playing on his mini hoop, little Draymond stomped around after making a bucket, roared like dad and even fell on the ground before asking dad to help him up.
“It’s like, ‘I like the intensity, but slow it down young fella.’ I realized how impressionable the kids are at the ages they’re at. Just really want to be a good example for them and show them the right things,” Green said. “My son was playing, he was shooting and flopping. I said, ‘You gotta stop watching the NBA.’ Shooting and falling on the floor like, ‘Oh, daddy help me up!’ Like nah, G, what you flopping for?”
Green has yet to receive a technical foul in the Western Conference Finals after picking up four in the first 11 games of the playoffs (three shy of a one-game suspension), and on Saturday night he recorded his third triple-double of the postseason with 20 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a 110-99 win.
Corralling his emotions and channeling them into positivity, as he did in motivating Jordan Bell after his blown breakaway dunk on Saturday, has helped the Warriors mightily. Green has thrown away the pouting and complaining and poor body language and as a result, he’s fueled the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Trail Blazers with a chance to advance to their fifth straight NBA Finals coming Monday.
“It’s important because when he gets upset and emotional it costs us,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “We lose our focus as a team. He’s our leader. He’s our emotional leader out there, so if he can play like he did last night in terms of just moving onto the next play after something goes wrong that’s a huge boost to our team.”
Green might’ve cost the Warriors an NBA title in 2016 when he hit LeBron James in the groin area and was suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Warriors held a 3-1 lead, and we all know what happened next.
Any Warriors player or coach will tell you Green makes the dynasty go. It’s his body language they follow. Without their motor, the Warriors suffered a monumental collapse because he couldn’t properly channel his emotions.
“I’ve been victim of that type of scenario before and can’t make the same mistake twice,” Green said.
In part that’s why, entering the 2019 playoffs, Green made a point to scale back on his on-court antics. He may not have accomplished that until these conference finals – four technical fouls serve as proof – but Game 3 was the performance Green envisioned when he set that goal for himself.
“That’s huge in terms of keeping the focus on what we can control, and that’s how we’re playing,” Stephen Curry said. “Calls are gonna go a certain way and you can waste energy all you want talking to the refs. I’ve never in the history of the league seen a ref change a call because somebody was arguing it. It’s just a matter of understanding the moment and what it takes to win at this level.”
Green responded with a firm “no” when asked if these changes make it hard to keep his edge.
“Because it’s just directing the energy somewhere else, directing it to more positive things,” he said. “I can play with the same passion and aggression and not argue with referees.”
Green cited his well publicized spat with Kevin Durant that resulted in the Warriors suspending Green for one game earlier this season as a turning point. Outsiders said, “That’s just Draymond, he’s emotional,” Green remembers, but what Durant eventually told him stuck with Green and helped him become the refined player he is today.
“You’re not emotional,” Durant told him. “I’ve seen you lock in and not say a word to the referees.”
“That’s kinda stuck with me, too,” Green said.
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So as Green embarks on this new, scaled back-but-still-amped up version of himself, the Warriors look scary as ever, even without Durant.
One game separates the Warriors and a trip to yet another NBA Finals, and their engine has a three-peat seeming more likely by the game.
 
 

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