Green sets the Warriors’ season alive

SAN FRANCISCO — Draymond Green wasn’t letting the Golden State Warriors’ season end Wednesday night. His goal was to set the tone for his team.

Before Game 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Warriors player development coach Jacob Rubin told Green that his presence has not been felt so far in this series. Not in the way Rubin knew.

“It’s coming out aggressively on both ends of the floor. It’s verbal so everybody listens to you on the floor. I felt a little disrespected when they said that,” Green said. “I knew it was up to me to come out and set the tone for our guys. … Season on the line, backs against the wall. You’ve got to come out and give it everything you’ve got. That was my mentality.”

Green emerged as Golden State’s engine in the Warriors’ 121-106 win.

He finished with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, 10 rebounds and three steals. It was his second 20-point game this postseason, along with Game 5 against the Sacramento Kings in the first round. Green has had multiple 20-point games in the postseason for the first time since 2017. Before the playoffs, they hadn’t scored 20 points since Christmas Day in 2019.

“I think you expect that in a situation like this where you’re facing elimination,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Draymond is one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever seen. So you expect him to bring it. I didn’t tell him anything. He didn’t need any pep talks from me, that’s for sure.”

Green’s first play of the game was a defensive foul on Anthony Davis — a sign of the aggressiveness and physicality he’s been playing on that end of the floor. Then, on the next possession, Green hit a 3-pointer, the Warriors’ first points of the night. Tell them they’re looking to score.

“I think there is a statistic somewhere… when [Green] If we score a certain amount of points, we usually win,” Kerr said.

He was right: Golden State was 43-10 in the regular season and the playoffs when Green scored at least 20 points.

Kerr continued: “When he’s looking to attack, it definitely adds another dimension to our team. I liked his approach to the game tonight. … He’s like, ‘I’m coming’.”

Perhaps the big luxury of Green’s tenacity on offense is taking some of the responsibility off Stephen Curry, who has been facing a Los Angeles defense all series.

Curry finished with 27 points, but it was a consistent collection through four quarters. He never went on a scoring spree like he often does.

“How teams are important in Steph and Clay [Thompson], they’re really doing their best, selling those guys and trying to get them out of the game,” Green said. “We’re paid a lot to do it, so you can’t just sit back and watch them. … You have to do something about it.”

Green also held the Lakers to 6-of-15 shooting while contesting shots and held Davis to 3-of-8 shooting as his primary defender.

Green wasn’t the only one who took some of the burden off Curry and Thompson’s shoulders. Andrew Wiggins finished with 25 points on 10-18 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists.

With 9:32 to go in the fourth, Wiggins picked off LeBron James at center court. Wiggins managed to poke the ball away from James for a split second before recovering. He then clung to James’ side as James drove to the hoop.

James dished the ball to Davis under the hoop, but as Davis rose to score, Green met him at the top for a block.

Kerr said of Wiggins, who returned to the court April 15 for the Warriors’ first game after missing two months due to a family matter. “We ask him defensively and in any playoff series, he’s going to end up on the opponent’s best player. In this series, that’s obviously LeBron. And thank God we have Wiggs because he can play all night.”

Game 5 was the third-highest scoring playoff game of Wiggins’ career, behind his 27- and 26-point games last postseason.

Led by Wiggins, the Warriors finally started successfully completing drives against the Lakers. He scored 16 points in the paint.

In Games 1 through 4, the Warriors shot 19-52, or 37%, on drives. In Game 5, he went 9-of-17 (53%) on drives. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first time he shot at least 50% of drives in a game in this series.

Before Wednesday’s game, Wiggins had averaged 14.8 points per game in this series. Green’s average was 6.8. But they knew they had to do more to keep their season alive — and that didn’t change after they forced a Game 6.

“You have to keep fighting and knowing that this team is going to come out and give us their best punch. You have to take that hit and respond,” Green said. “If you react, they punch back and you have to react again. If you can do that, the game swings your way.”

With their Game 5 victory, the Warriors improved to 8-2 when facing elimination under Kerr, including 7-0 against Western Conference opponents — the best winning percentage of any team facing elimination since 2015.

As the series heads back to LA, they need to pull it back once again to push the series to a Game 7. And if they do, the Warriors are confident they can overcome a 3-1 series deficit for the second time. Franchise History.

“We trust and believe in ourselves,” Green said. “[But the Lakers are] It is not going to be given to us. They are going to come out and play aggressively. They have great leaders there, incredible winners. … They’re just not going to fold. It is up to us to go there and take it. “

He continued: “Our work is not done. We are still facing elimination and we will face elimination for the rest of the series. So have to have the same mentality. Back to the wall, you have to come fighting. .”

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