Draymond Green's kicks set tone for the Warriors stifling LeBron James

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/gsw/" data-ylk="slk:Golden State Warriors">Golden State Warriors</a> forwards <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4244/" data-ylk="slk:Kevin Durant">Kevin Durant</a> and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5069/" data-ylk="slk:Draymond Green">Draymond Green</a> argue a call with referee Derrick Stafford during the first half against the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/cle/" data-ylk="slk:Cleveland Cavaliers">Cleveland Cavaliers</a>, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Golden State Warriors forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green argue a call with referee Derrick Stafford during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Draymond Green’s Arthur-themed kicks set the tone for the Golden State Warriors’ nail-biting 99-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before the game, an image of Arthur standing beside a Christmas tree, being featured on the back of Green’s sneakers foreshadowed Golden State’s strategy against LeBron James. It was a shoe commissioned by Green weeks in advance of the Christmas Day matchup because what else would he do before a Christmas Day showdown against James besides blow metaphorical spitballs at the back of his neck?

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The Arthur fist meme was recently revived by James on Instagram following a Boston Celtics victory and has proliferated within NBA social circles. However, Green is the first opponent to flip it and actively troll James.

Green arrived to Oracle Arena with a mission. He had James all over his brain and his feet followed. Green earned a triple-double, but he was the key component of a defensive penumbra that formed over James. Over the course of the evening, Green was superglued to James. He swooped in and swatted a James lay-in underneath the basket in the second quarter.

When Green wasn’t smothering James, he created fast-break opportunities through his shot-blocking prowess. Green wasn’t alone. Containing James was a group effort.

Rookie Jordan Bell also took turns defending James. It went markedly better than this summer’s L.A. open gym, in which he discussed getting schooled by James.

In the fourth quarter, Durant locked in and frustrated James even further. Overall James finished 7-of-18 from the field, made 2-of-7 treys, dished six assists and committed seven turnovers. On the Cavs’ penultimate possession, Durant swatted another James lay-up that wound up ricocheting off the four-time MVP’s hand.

It was the fifth block for Durant, who also scored 25 points on 8-of-19 shooting. That didn’t even include Andre Iguodala, who cultivated a career out of causing perimeter scorers to malfunction. Watching James get his drawers strung up a flagpole down the stretch was jarring to witness. Minus Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ defensive fortitude and their bully-ball lineup was the difference between them and Cleveland’s 27th ranked defense.

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DJ Dunson is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at dunsnchecksin@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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