Draymond Green ready for aggressive NBA Finals Game 4 balancing act

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Aggressive Game 4 balancing act required from Draymond originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

BOSTON -- It didn't take long for the chants to start Wednesday night at TD Garden. They were expected. Then they hit a different level early in the Warriors' 116-100 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

What began as "Draymond sucks!" soon became a raucous chorus of "F--k you, Draymond!" Green, Steve Kerr, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry all weren't surprised one bit by the cold welcome from the road crowd.

Later in the night, Green had his own special response for Celtics fans.

"F--k you, too," he said on his podcast, the Draymond Green Show.

That side of the three-time champion will be needed for the Warriors to even the series at two wins apiece come Friday night in Game 4 of the Finals. Green has embraced the hate as public enemy No. 1 on the road throughout the playoffs, especially in Memphis -- whether it was two angry birds connected to his hands or joining in on the crowd's emphatic singing and dancing of "Whoop That Trick."

But in the Warriors' loss Wednesday night that put them in a two-games-to-one hole, he stood silent and held his ground. It didn't work.

Green's presence wasn't felt in the box score or by the eye test. He didn't bring a winning impact on offense, defense or with his energy. And he knows it.

Expect that to change in a crucial Game 4. If it doesn't, the Warriors could find themselves in an impossible hole to climb out of.

"I didn't really give much to the crowd anyway, which I kind of think was a little bit more of an issue than if I did," Green said Thursday at Warriors practice.

"So, like I said, it's just about me finding that balance and, just like I said on my podcast, being Draymond Green. I know how to be him better than anyone else. I know how to be him better than anyone else can be him. So I just got to be myself."

To open these Finals, Green wasn't the version of himself that the Warriors needed, resulting in a fourth-quarter collapse and a 12-point loss. He felt he let Curry and his teammates down and vowed to be better. To no surprise, he completed his promise with focus and intensity, finishing with nine points, seven assists, five rebounds, one block and one steal on his way to being a plus-7 in a 19-point win.

His impact was felt well beyond the stats, which almost always can be seen on the scoreboard with the Warriors in the win column. That same Draymond didn't show up once the series shifted to Boston.

Defense is his calling card, that we know. He also can't be invisible on the other side of the ball. By halftime of Game 3, he didn't score a single point. In those first two quarters, he also only had one assist, turned the ball over twice and had been whistled for two fouls.

Before fouling out with four minutes remaining, Green's final stat line read like this: 2 points, 1-for-4 from the field, 0-for-2 from 3-point range, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He was a minus-13.

"I have to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball, not just defense or offense," Green said. "I think the game ties together, all goes hand-in-hand. When you're flowing on one side, you can flow on the other.

"We are a much better team when I'm aggressive offensively, so I have to be that for this team. I've always prided myself on giving the team what it needs in order to win. I think this team will need more of that for us to win, so I have to be better on that side, for sure."

Through the first three games of the Finals, Green has scored 15 points and has been called for 15 fouls. He has made five shots and has turned the ball over six times. What's more concerning is he hasn't been close to the defensive star the Warriors badly require right now.

Over nearly 35 minutes on the floor, Green had a 130 defensive rating in Golden State's latest loss. That was worse than Jordan Poole and tied for the second-worst on the team. The Warriors, by the numbers, have been better on defense with Green off the court than on it against the Celtics.

They have a 113.6 defensive rating with him on the floor, and a 105.1 defensive rating when he's on the bench. The truth is, they're not winning the title if those numbers continue. To him, it all starts with energy, force and aggressiveness. He has to be the captain of that boat.

"I think it's all a part of the same issue," Green said. "We didn't approach the game with the right force that we needed to, and that starts with me. I think if I increase my force, we increase our force, it can take all those things away."

Draymond responded after his lackluster series-opening performance but fell back to a state that isn't going to produce wins in his next game. Kerr and all his Warriors teammates have zero doubts he'll bounce back again. It's clear he agrees.

That raises the question: Can he sustain it for the entire series? He's going to have to. One version of Green can't arrive one night with another showing up the next. Consistency is the answer.

RELATED: Warriors' third-quarter powers have big fourth-quarter problem

We should know from the opening tip which Draymond Green the Warriors are going to get on Friday night. He'll be juggling an aggressive balancing act on offense and defense, as well as with the crowd. Keeping his edge and holding the upper hand in all three categories has long seen the Warriors come out victorious.

That should be the case in Game 4 if he again holds up his promise of being the player he once more is assuring himself and all others of who he'll be and who he still is.

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