Draymond Green's basketball genius on display in Warriors' win over Grizzlies
Draymond's basketball genius on display in win over Grizzlies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole combined to score 31 of the Warriors' 32 fourth-quarter points Wednesday night in their last-second 122-120 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The remaining one point belonged to Draymond Green.
Make no mistake about it, Green was equally as important as the Warriors' three-headed scoring monster in grinding out a savory victory against their growing rivals.
Never judge Draymond by how many points he scores. Don't judge him by his box score, even on a night where he stuffs the stat sheet like he did against the Grizzlies with eight points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and one steal. One has to truly watch him to appreciate Green's greatness.
Sometimes his basketball genius can be subtle. The latest example came with two-and-a-half minutes left and the Warriors down by two points, 113-111.
With a Desmond Bane 3-pointer in mid-flight, Green peeks to his right to see where Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. is. He then boxes out Brandon Clarke, beats Jackson to the point of where Bane's misfire was landing and that's when one of the smartest players in NBA history always comes out on top. Draymond didn't just beat Jackson to the ball.
He turned his body into Jackson, knowing the Grizzlies' defensive star had five fouls. Green immediately pointed in Golden State's direction. He perfectly baited Jackson into fouling out.
"I thought Jaren Jackson's sixth foul was a big moment in the game," Steve Kerr said after the Warriors' win. "It allowed us to play smaller for a longer stretch."
Jackson was a plus-7 in plus/minus with 17 points and six rebounds over 28 minutes for the Grizzlies. They sure could have used those final two-plus minutes.
Without him, they were outscored 11-7 the rest of the game. After Jackson fouled out, the Warriors grabbed five rebounds and the Grizzlies grabbed one. Jackson is averaging a career-high 6.6 rebounds per game this season.
To Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins, that area of the game down the stretch dictated who came out the winners.
"We didn't rebound," Jenkins said when asked what went wrong in the final few possessions.
They also didn't defend well enough. Last season, Jackson was named All-Defensive First Team. This season, he missed the first 14 games to injury and has been a top Defensive Player of the Year candidate ever since he returned. His 103 defensive rating is the best of his career, and if eligible, he'd be leading the league with 3.2 blocks per game.
The Warriors won on a last-second layup with one of the game's premier defenders and shot-blockers stuck to the bench, all because Green won his latest mind game.
And his fourth-quarter contributions didn't stop there. Green's free throw with 30 seconds left gave the Warriors a one-point lead. He also had three rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the fourth. In the end, his basketball IQ was the difference yet again.
Green was the ultimate decision maker in the Warriors' final out of bounds play with 2.6 seconds on the clock. It was a play Kerr admitted the Warriors hadn't practiced in months. The margin for error was minimal. Poole made the perfect back cut at the right time, Donte DiVincenzo hit him in the chest and the Warriors, with Jackson stuck to the sidelines, edged out the final two points.
"He suggested it and I loved it," Kerr said. "We had enough guys out there who knew the play where we could sort through it. There's a couple of good options out of it."
JORDAN POOLE! FOR THE WIN! pic.twitter.com/hFLiFKsbGq
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 26, 2023
Then there's the final piece to what Kerr was able to exploit with Jackson out. As he said, that allowed the Warriors to go smaller down the stretch. Kerr interchanged Anthony Lamb and Kevon Looney, with Looney playing defense and Lamb offense. He also was able to keep DiVincenzo on the floor, who helped keep the Warriors' hopes alive first by fighting for a rebound and boxing out Ja Morant on Thompson's late missed jumper and then with his pass to Poole.
The five-man group of Poole, Thompson, DiVincenzo, Lamb and Green played 28 seconds together. As a unit, they were a plus-5, outscoring the Grizzlies 5-0.
Draymond Green is a chess grandmaster.
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"That started in the 2015 championship, so I'm all for it," Thompson said of the Warriors going small. "Still here, still working and if it ain't broke don't fix it. It just allows for great space and we've got so many great scorers on this team that it's going to be somebody's night.
"It can be anybody's night, any given game."
Under points scored, it was Curry, Thompson and Poole's game against the Grizzlies. The same can be said for Green and the final score.
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