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The grit that often sustains the Warriors on the road was there only occasionally Wednesday night, and that was not nearly enough.
Not when the Celtics spent most of the evening playing like a pack of energized Draymond Greens, while Draymond himself did not.
And he knows it. Asked to assess his performance after the Warriors took a 116-100 loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night, Draymond poured it straight, no chaser.
“Like s—t,” he said.
The thoughts of an anxious Dub Nation came tumbling out on Draymond’s mouth in vivid color – and without a nanosecond’s hesitation. His honesty is refreshing and appreciated.
It’s also, under the circumstances, with the Warriors now trailing the best-of-seven series two games to one, disturbing to hear.
The season has reached June, the only month that truly matters to Draymond. And these are the NBA Finals, the stage that will dictate whether the season was a success or a failure. Draymond is fond of citing the differences between what he calls 82-game players and 16-game players as a way of separating good players from great players.
He is a certified 16-gamer, someone who lives for the number of postseason victories required for an NBA championship. And with the Warriors taking the court at TD Garden needing one win to take a series lead and three for another Larry O’Brien trophy, it’s baffling, even disappointing, to see Draymond underperform.
For him to be unable to muster at least a solid game in response to the Boston crowd showering him with chants banal (“Draymond sucks! Draymond sucks!) and profane (“F— you, Draymond”) is rather alarming.
It’s enough to make it fair to wonder how often Draymond, at 32, can summon the high-velocity game that made him a star.
His numbers in Game 3 were brutal. He fouled out after submitting two points, four rebounds, three assists, one block and two turnovers. Draymond was outrebounded by all five Boston starters one of its reserves, Grant Williams, who through three Finals games is auditioning for the role of Draymond’s foil.
But Draymond at his best usually has an impact that dwarfs his statistics. The impact and presence that drives the Warriors was not in evidence.
“I just think I never found a rhythm, really on both ends of the floor,” Green said. “Not enough force. But just got to find a rhythm quicker.
“I was soft. That’s what was most disappointing to me, for us.”
With a decent game from Draymond, the Warriors likely win Game 3. They got sufficient scoring from Stephen Curry (31 points) and Klay Thompson (25), who combined for 25 during a third-quarter surge that give them a ghost of hope.
Trailing by 18 halfway through the second quarter, Golden State used its typical third-quarter rally to briefly move into the lead – before they produced a disastrous fourth quarter during which they were outscored 23-11.
The Warriors, third quarter excepted, were outhustled all over the court. They were outrebounded 47-31, outscored in the paint (52-26) and in second-chance points (22-11). They were on the losing end of most 50-50 balls.
Those are the kind of shortcomings that Draymond generally takes notes and addresses. He didn’t. Can he in Game 4?
“He had a tough game, but I trust Draymond as much as I trust anybody,” coach Steve Kerr said. “You know, he always bounces back from losses and from tough nights individually. He’ll be back on Friday.”
Klay was even more emphatic in his faith that something good is in store.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Draymond Green,” he said. “I consider him a brother, and we’ve played at the mountaintop together and played in big, big battles. As long as I see him and 30 (Curry) and with Andre (Iguodala) and our young bucks, I really think we’re going to have a great night Friday night.”
That will be decided by Draymond. A loss put the Warriors in a 3-1 hole, while victory recaptures homecourt advantage and resuscitates their chances of another championship.
Meanwhile, what’s left to discover is whether Draymond, who has been impactful in one of the first three games, Game 2, can bring the best of himself in the games to come.