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Draymond denies Blazers in Game 1

Green anchors Warriors’ strong defensive effort in the fourth quarter

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. — The NBA Playoffs are back, and nobody is more happy for playoff basketball than Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.

In February, the Warriors became the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff birth. While they still had to fend of the San Antonio Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference, the final weeks of the regular season were basically a waiting game for Green and the Warriors to let the rest of the field fill out.

“When you're out there playing for the last few games, there was no disrespect to anyone, but they just felt like pre-season games,” said Green of the Warriors final regular season games. “You're not playing for anything so you’re just out there trying to get through. It's tough to get going for that.”

It had been over two weeks since Green played more than 30 minutes in a game and his rest payed dividends in his Game 1 performance.

Green was charged up from start to finish behind a raucous Oracle crowd that helped propel him to what might have been his most impressive all-around game of the season. “Our crowd brought it from the beginning to the end,” said Green after the game. “So we were able to feed off that.”

Green scored 19 points (6-for-10 from the field, 3-for-4 on threes), grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out nine assists. He also had five monster blocks, three steals and turned the ball over just once.

Green joined an impressive list of players who have made at least three three-pointers and recorded five blocks in a playoff game.

Rk            Player       Date    Tm Opp MP FG FGA  FG% 3P 3PA  3P% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS GmSc
1      Kawhi Leonard 2016-04-22   SAS MEM 42 11  22 .500  6   9 .667   7   2   4   5   0  32 32.0
2    Alonzo Mourning 1995-04-28   CHH CHI 48 13  26 .500  3   6 .500  13   3   2   7   2  32 27.5
3      Dirk Nowitzki 2004-04-18   DAL SAC 43 12  19 .632  4   6 .667  13   3   3   5   1  32 33.0
4     Draymond Green 2017-04-16   GSW POR 37  6  10 .600  3   4 .750  12   9   3   5   1  19 27.4
5       Robert Horry 1995-06-07   HOU ORL 47  7  18 .389  4  10 .400   8   3   3   5   0  19 18.2
6    Rasheed Wallace 2008-04-29   DET PHI 31  8  12 .667  3   4 .750   6   3   1   6   4  19 18.5
7         Al Horford 2016-04-19   ATL BOS 31  6  11 .545  3   4 .750   5   2   1   5   2  17 16.7
8        Danny Green 2015-05-02   SAS LAC 35  6  12 .500  3   7 .429   8   3   2   5   0  16 19.2
9        Dan Majerle 1993-06-11   PHO CHI 43  4  14 .286  3   8 .375   9   4   2   5   2  13 13.8
Provided by View Original Table

However when you factor in Green’s nine assists, he becomes the only player in NBA playoff history to ever record such a line.

After being suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, it appears that Green may have a renewed focus heading into the 2017 playoffs. While Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry dazzled the crowd on the offensive end with 32 and 29 points respectively, it was Green’s heart and hustle on the defensive end that really inspired the Warriors faithful.

“The way that Draymond protected the rim tonight was amazing,” said Curry in his post game press conference.

Two of Green’s five blocks came way of a “meet me at the rim” type manner, in which Draymond met his opponent at the apex of their jump for a ferocious denial that left Green as the last man standing.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

“When you block it at the rim, it's a little different because that's one of those plays where you're within a half inch to a centimeter of being dunked on,” said Green of his poster blocks. “So when you actually come up with the block, you know, it's a bit more excitement.”

Draymond described his dunk denials as mono-a-mono showdown — man against man. Each congregation at the cylinder left a Trail Blazer sprawled out on the floor, with Green letting out a savage yell that was swallowed up by a frenzied Oracle crowd.

“Who is going to win the battle?” Draymond asked hypothetically, as if anyone didn’t already know that answer. “It's just a different type of emotion.”

The season began with so many questions about the Warriors’ rim protection and lack of a true defensive big man. Green took care of all of that and more.

He anchored a defensive-minded lineup to start the fourth quarter while Curry and Durant were on the bench. Head coach Steve Kerr told Green that the defensive intensity of the lineup possessed the ability to change the game, and that’s exactly what happened.

“We knew we had to come out and get stops if we were ever going to pull away in that game and start that quarter off,” said Green of the lineup that opened up the game’s final period with a 15-2 run. “That group did it, and then we were able to knock down some shots, but it started with our defense.”

The Blazers played quite possibly the best game they could play against the Warriors. They forced turnovers early on and made tough contested shots throughout the entire game. But when it comes down to it, the Warriors have a gear on defense that most teams cannot match and that is all because of the heart and passion of Draymond Green.

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