Warriors ‘Draymond Green ready for Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic to ‘come out with a vengeance’ in Game 2

Draymond Green’s ability to dominate on defense and facilitate on offense remains a 1-of-a-kind skill set that unlocks Golden State’s full potential.

SAN FRANCISCO – A day after frustrating, tiring out and limiting the reigning Kia MVP, Warriors forward Draymond Green had the platform to rave about his suffocating defense on Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

Green sat at the podium. He held the mic. And he had nothing to stop Green from bragging about his role di lui in the Warriors’ 123-107 Game 1 victory on Saturday at Chase Center.

Green never lacks confidence or bravado. Sometimes the body language and expressive outbursts suggest otherwise. But Green retains measures of self-awareness and humility.

“He still had 25 points. You’re not locking down a great player, ”Green said. “He’s the MVP of the NBA for a reason. He’s possibly the MVP of the NBA again. “

So after Jokic shot 12-for-25 from the field while adding 10 rebounds and six assists, Green openly feared that Jokic will elevate his game when the Warriors (1-0) host the Nuggets in Game 2 of their first-round series on Monday.

“I feel like he’s going to try to come out and give me 40 [points]15 [rebounds] and 15 [assists] next game, ”Green said. “He’s pissed off and he’s coming back with a vengeance tomorrow.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone loved hearing Green’s concerns.

“I’ll sign up for it right now, Draymond!” Malone said, while flashing a thumbs up toward a video camera. “I’m in it. I’ll take 40, 15 and 15 from Nikola. “

Nikola Jokic rocks the Warriors for 25 points & 10 rebounds in the series opener.

The Warriors would certainly not want Jokic to post such a stat line. But they understand it seems inevitable that Jokic will still play an effective game no matter how many different defenders and schemes they throw at them. With the Nuggets nursing long-term injuries to guards Jamal Murray (left knee) and Michael Porter Jr. (lumbar spine), the Warriors have prioritized ensuring that Jokic cannot punish them with his superior passing.

“We need Nikola to be just aggressive and carry the team,” Malone said. “I give Draymond credit. He guarded him well. The team guarded him well at times. Other guys have to contribute. “

Hard for that to happen with Green on the floor. He spent the 2021-22 season admittedly struggling with returning from a lower back injury that sidelined him for a combined 32 games in the middle of the season.

“I was playing like trash,” Green conceded.

But after spending the Warriors’ final 10 of 12 regular-season games ramping up his workload on a minutes restriction, Green has since felt more comfortable in a more familiar setting. For the first time since the Warriors appeared in the 2019 NBA Finals, Green made his playoff return in Game 1 against Denver.

“My emotions have been a wreck all week,” Green said. “I tried to contain those by being very quiet and not saying much because I don’t want to say the wrong thing because I knew my emotions were a wreck. That’s growth. “

Once Green stepped onto the court, no longer did he have to be quiet. He could be loud. Green roared both to give the Warriors an emotional spark and to give himself a therapeutic release.

“I felt the most peace and calm I felt in a very, very, very long time going into the start of a series,” Green said. “This feels normal and this feels great. This feels more like what I’m accustomed to. “

But after both experiencing elation and sorrow through three NBA championships and two Finals losses, Green hardly feels comfortable with his next assignment. He may have succeeded with defending Jokic in Game 1; it will be a new day for Game 2.

“He’s an incredible player and a very, very, very tough guard,” Green said of Jokic. “When I’m guarding him, I’m also playing chess. It’s not just ‘Bang, bang, I beat him to the spot.’ It’s a lot of different games within the game that you have to try to play. “

That’s because Green believes that Jokic passes just as well as Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, who ranks third on the NBA’s all-time assists list. That’s because Green believes that Jokic “reads the game just as well as LeBron James,” who ranks high both on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (second) and assists list (seventh).

That explains why the Warriors employed multiple defenders against Jokic, including Green, Kevon Looney, Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica.

Could Jordan Poole prove to be the Warriors’ next superstar?

That also explains why the Warriors implemented a new lineup for the final 4:23 of the second quarter that included Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole along with Andrew Wiggins at power forward and Green at center. The Warriors instituted the lineup for offensive purposes and fulfilled that mission by securing a 58-47 halftime lead after completing an 18-8 run.

Yet Green believes that unit can forge a defensive identity that includes all four of his teammates becoming dependable rebounders.

“That group has to speed people up,” Green said. “You can’t just let a team walk the ball into their spots and get into the sets that they want to get into. It has to be some pressure and has to be trying to speed the group up and flying around. I definitely have to hold down the interior with such a small group. But I feel pretty confident in that over the course of time. I think I can do that pretty well. “

Despite the intrigue of this new lineup, the Warriors only have about five minutes worth of a sample size to judge its effectiveness. The Warriors have a much more established sense of Green’s defensive presence. Just like in past playoff runs, Green put together a defensive clinic. Just like in past playoff runs, Green anticipates his star opponent will make further adjustments.

“It’s gone the way I hoped it would go,” Green said. “Now I have to continue to build. I like this time of year. This is when basketball is fun. “

Mark Medina is a senior writer / analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive of him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

Leave a Comment