• Full Coverage: 2022 NBA Finals
SAN FRANCISCO – While struggling during his NBA Finals debut, Golden State Warriors third-year guard Jordan Poole heard harsh criticism from a source far more important than what he might have seen on TV and social media.
Warriors forward Draymond Green appeared unhappy with Poole as he struggled through the Warriors’ 120-108 loss to the Boston Celtics in Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals. But since he finished with nine points on 2-of-7 shooting and four turnovers, Poole has heard Green offer a different message and tone as he entered Game 2 on Sunday (8ET, ABC).
“‘Just stick with it. It’s basketball,'” Green recalled telling Poole to NBA.com. “,It’s a game. He will fight back.”
Green expressed similar optimism about his own ability to bounce back after completing Game 1 with just four points, three turnovers and six fouls.
Unsolicited, Green blamed himself for a reason both after the Warriors’ Game 1 loss and after practice on Saturday.
“If I can’t hold myself accountable, I can’t hold Jordan Poole accountable,” Green said. “By the way, I can’t hold anyone accountable if I can’t look in the mirror and hold myself accountable.”
So Green spat out truth serum about his own game. No doubt Green vowed to shoot better than his 2-for-12 clip showed. But he claimed he liked his aggressiveness, which showed in his field goal attempts. In order to reduce his sales, Green stressed the need to “not make mental mistakes.” And as the Celtics overcame a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Green blamed himself for the Warriors’ poor defense.
Overall, Green concluded that he “needs to take my game up a few notches.”
The Warriors have relied on Green to do his best in three NBA championship heats in five finals appearances. But during that time, he had a long history of blaming himself for poor performances before correcting them.
After finishing on a combined 4 of 17 shooting in Games 2 and 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals against Cleveland, Green improved to a combined 14 of 32 in Games 4 through 6. After a combined performance of 2 of 16 in In games 3 and 4 in the 2016 Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City, Green shot after two 4-of-10 wins for the Warriors. After Green shot 2-of-9 in the Warriors’ Game 1 loss of the 2019 NBA Finals to Toronto, Green responded with 12 points to a 6-of-12 shooting in a Game 2 win.
No wonder the Warriors see Green’s Game 1 slip as a harbinger of his Game 2 peak.
“I don’t see any other scenario where I see playing differently other than him coming out with great energy and focus,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said of Green. “He takes all of these things personally in terms of his standard and what he knows he can do out there on the floor. When he doesn’t deliver on that, he’s usually pretty honest and accountable to the team.”
Why is Green taking this approach? It doesn’t just improve its own game. He believes it lifts others too. At the end of the Warriors’ practice, Green attempted to create a casual and competitive environment. He showed excitement after making a handful of 3-pointers. He also spoke trash and encouraged his teammates while shooting from the free throw line.
“One thing I hate is leaders who, when all is well, are just them. they do everything You make everything possible. And if something hits the fan, it’s everyone else’s fault,” Green said. “We call these frontrunners, and we don’t. We’ll take it by the chin. That’s what I’ve been taught my whole life. I understand that in the end we win if I play well.”
Poole’s other vets are also encouraging
Green wasn’t the only one to offer both encouragement and constructive feedback to Poole. Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala all snagged a ticket at the deli counter so they could share their two cents.
Curry has encouraged Poole to “be yourself,” while Thompson has told Poole to “relax and not be too hard on yourself.” Nonetheless, Curry and Iguodala also provided tactical feedback.
Iguodala scolded Poole after committing one of his four turnovers in Game 1. Since then, Iguodala said, the two have talked about “how we can mitigate some things that might be thrown at us.” As for curry?
“Think of how it felt in terms of your adrenaline and emotions coming out in the game to try and assert yourself,” Curry said. “Maybe drive a little slower to see the pictures a little better. But he doesn’t have to change how he plays, how he attacks, or where he feels safest to affect the game. You just have to be able to suppress these emotions.”
It sounds like Poole was listening. The Warriors praised his prep habits of asking questions, studying gameplay and practicing hard. To clear his head, Pool has spent his free time watching movies, playing music and taking naps. “I will find ways to continue to be aggressive,” Poole said.
The warriors believe he will.
“It’s been a tough night for him,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, “but I’m confident tomorrow will be a lot better.”
Celtics draw attention to WNBA star Brittney Griner
The Celtics don’t just want to set an example with their game. They want to make a statement with their gestures.
Before practice on Saturday, all Celtics wore t-shirts that read “We are BG”. The Celtics did this to draw more attention to WNBA star Brittney Griner, who the Russian government has arrested on drug charges since Feb. 17.
“We wanted to come out and show our support for Brittney Griner,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said. “She’s been over there for a while and we feel like enough is enough.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 4, 2022
Celtics forward Grant Williams, vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, recently came up with the idea for the team to wear t-shirts in hopes of expediting their return. Initially, the NBA and WNBA took a cautious approach amid concerns about tensions between the United States and Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. But the approach changed last month after the State Department found on May 3 that Griner had been “wrongly detained.”
Ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Commissioner Adam Silver said, “We are working in lockstep with the US government and outside experts to expedite their release in whatever way we can.” The Celtics also tweeted a link to the “We are BG” website. , which hosts a Change.org petition urging the White House and Biden administration to “get Brittney home quickly and safely.”
“We just wanted to show this togetherness and love that we have not just in the NBA but in the WNBA,” Williams said. “She’s been an important part of the WNBA over the years, both in college and in the crowd she’s had on young female athletes in the US and abroad. We hope to have her back in the States and reunited with her family and doing what she loves and bringing that love and tenacity that she always plays with to the court.”
Celtics shrug off Green’s scouting report
Scanning the box score following the Warriors’ Game 1 loss, Green focused on the Celtics’ 3-point shooting led by Marcus Smart (4-on-7), Al Horford (6-on-8) and Derrick White (5-for-8). Green shrugged and said, “We’ll make it.”
The not-so-subtle implication: The Warriors don’t think Horford and White can maintain those productive outside shot counts. Green said this on his own podcast.
“We knew what their game plan was up to, so it’s just up to us to take shots,” White said. “He said what he said. Just going into Game 2, we just have the right attitude to do whatever it takes to help us win games.”
Will Payton play in game 2?
The Warriors eventually vacated Gary Payton II for Game 1, ending an eight-game absence while nursing a broken left elbow. Despite this, Payton remained on the bench as a healthy scratch.
“I wasn’t comfortable playing him meaningful minutes yet,” Kerr said. “I thought and the coaching staff felt that he needed some more time. I expect he will be available for more than that tomorrow.”
Kerr said he considered using Payton for “a late game stop.” Although Kerr said Payton’s condition remained good, Kerr has also had concerns about Payton’s shot and ball handling since he sustained an elbow injury in his dominant arm.
Despite this, Payton said he remains “available” and “ready for action.”
“I try to tell him every day that I’m ready,” Payton said of Kerr. “Hopefully it sinks in sooner or later.”
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Mark Medina is a Senior Writer/Analyst for NBA.com. You can email him here, find his archive here, and follow him on twitter.
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