Draymond Green, on the eve of Game 6 in which the Warriors can win the series, claimed that the hurdles posed by the Celtics don’t compare to facing the Warriors’ more acquainted opponent in this round: LeBron James.
“Well it doesn’t compare to, like, mentally playing against LeBron James, who I think is arguably the smartest guy to ever play this game,” Green said.
Since 2015, the Warriors and James’ Cleveland Cavaliers have met in four straight NBA Finals, giving the team’s most seasoned players invaluable experience competing against an all-time superstar. During that period of time, Golden State triumphed in three games.
“Not ‘one of,’ he’s arguably the smartest guy to step foot on a basketball court. So to say that it compares to that, it’s disrespectful to LeBron and it’s a lie to you.”
Draymond says the Celtics are talented, but it would be "disrespectful" to compare this series to what it was like mentally facing LeBron pic.twitter.com/MTXmW5JfT3
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) June 15, 2022
There have been ups and downs during the 2022 NBA Finals series, but now the Warriors have a chance to win the championship on Thursday night in Game 6. However, as the Warriors’ years of succession have shown, you can never count a team out of a series until it’s completely done.
Following Boston winning Game 1 in San Francisco, they effectively seized home court and won Game 3 at TD Garden to take a commanding 2-1 series lead. Game 4 was won in Boston by the Warriors on the strength of a legendary 43-point outing by Steph Curry while Game 5 was won behind Andrew Wiggins’ stellar performance.
In the light of the upcoming must-win Game 6 for the Celtics, Green expressed his concerns on how the Warriors have had to work hard to keep up with the younger, more athletic squad from Boston.
“Now in saying that, it is a challenge mentally because these guys are super athletic,” Green said. “They are super young and fast and strong, and all the things that we know and have heard throughout the course of this series.”
However, it doesn’t matter how much has happened in the last two weeks, Green still can’t compare what he’s going through now to what he went through with LeBron.
“Not as much of a chess match as it is when you’re playing LeBron, who is dissecting every play in that computer of his, like in real-time,” Green said. “Like that’s just a skill that not many people possess.”
Green and the Warriors are bracing themselves for the toughest “challenge” of the series. Winning the deciding game of a series is notoriously difficult, especially when done on the road.
“If a guy is faster than me, how can I beat him to a spot? I have to anticipate and I have to think,” Green added.
Specifically, Green named two members of the Celtics he considers to be exceptionally bright: guard Marcus Smart and head coach Ime Udoka.
“Marcus Smart, a guy who I have a tremendous amount of respect for and his basketball IQ. So it’s a challenge for sure. Ime is extremely smart. We know his pedigree.”
A Game 7 on Sunday is something the Warriors would rather avoid at all costs. So, they’ll do everything it takes to enter TD Garden as favorites and exit as champions, for the fourth time in eight seasons.
“I have to try to understand what he’s trying to get to,” Green said. “So I think that’s been huge in this series from a mental standpoint and just trying to understand and be a step ahead of them.”
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