• Full coverage: 2022 NBA Finals
SAN FRANCISCO— As he struggled throughout his NBA Finals debut, Golden State Warriors third-year guard Jordan Poole heard scathing criticism from a far bigger source than he could have. seen on TV and social media.
Warriors forward Draymond Green appeared unhappy with Poole as he steamed through the Warriors’ 120-108 loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. But since finishing with nine points on 2-of-7 shooting and four turnovers, Poole heard Green deliver a different message and tone going into Game 2 on Sunday (8 ET, ABC).
“Hold on. It’s basketball,’” Green recalled telling Poole on NBA.com. “’It’s a game. He will bounce back.
Green expressed similar optimism about his own ability to bounce back after finishing Game 1 with just four points, three turnovers and six fouls.
Unprompted, Green blamed himself both after the Warriors lost in Game 1 and after practice Saturday for a specific reason.
“If I can’t hold myself accountable, I can’t hold Jordan Poole accountable,” Green said. “I can’t hold anyone else, for that matter, responsible if I can’t look in the mirror and hold myself accountable.”
Consequently, Green spat truth serum on his own coin. Undoubtedly, Green vowed to shoot better than his 2-for-12 clip showed. But he maintained he liked his aggressiveness, indicated by his field goal attempts. To reduce his turnovers, Green stressed the need to “not make mental mistakes”. And with the Celtics overcoming a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, Green blamed himself for the Warriors’ poor defense.
Overall, Green concluded he needed to “completely step my game up a few more notches.”
The Warriors relied on Green playing at his best through three NBA championship runs in five Finals appearances. But during that time he had a long history of blaming himself after poor performances before rectifying them.
After finishing with 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 Games 3 and 4 in the 2016 Western Conference Semifinals against Oklahoma City, Green shot 4 of 10 for the Warriors after two wins. After shooting 2 of 9 in the Warriors’ Game 1 loss of the 2019 NBA Finals to Toronto, Green responded with 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting in a Game 2 win.
No wonder the Warriors view Green’s Game 1 skid as a foreshadowing of his Game 2 highlight reel.
“No other scenario I see playing out differently than him coming out with a lot of energy and focus,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said of Green. “He takes it all personally in terms of his level and what he knows he can do out there on the pitch. When he doesn’t respect that, he’s usually pretty honest and responsible to himself to the team.
Why does Green follow this approach? Not only does it elevate his own game. He believes it elevates others too. When the Warriors ended training, Green tried to create a loose and competitive environment. He showed excitement after making a handful of 3-pointers. He also talked trash and encouraged his teammates as they shot from the free throw line.
“One thing I hate is the leaders who, when things are going well, it’s all of them. They do everything. They make everything happen. And when something hits the fan, it’s everybody’s fault,” Green said. “We call those favorites, and we don’t do that. We take it on the chin. That’s what I’ve always been taught all my life. I understand that in the end, if I play well, we win.
Rest of Warriors veterans also cheer on Poole
Green wasn’t the only one to offer Poole both encouragement and constructive feedback. Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala all took a ticket to the deli counter to split their two cents.
Curry encouraged Poole to “be yourself”, while Thompson told Poole to “relax and not be too hard on yourself”. Nonetheless, Curry and Iguodala also offered tactical commentary.
Iguodala berated Poole after committing one of his four turnovers in the opener. Since then, Iguodala said the two have talked about “how we can mitigate some things that might be thrown at us.” As for the curry?
“Remember how you felt in terms of adrenaline and in-game emotions to try to assert yourself,” Curry said. “Maybe slow down a bit to see the images a bit better. But he doesn’t have to change anything in the way he plays, the way he attacks or where he feels most confident to have an impact on the game. You just have to be able to suppress those emotions.
Looks like Poole listened. The Warriors praised his preparation habits by asking questions, studying game streaks and training hard. To clear his mind, Pool spent 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 was a tough night for him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “But I have full confidence that tomorrow will be much better.”
Celtics raise awareness of WNBA star Brittney Griner
The Celtics aren’t just looking to make a statement with their play. They’re looking to make a statement with their gestures.
Before practice on Saturday, the Celtics all wore t-shirts with the message “We are BG”. The Celtics did it to raise awareness of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who the Russian government has been detaining since Feb. 17 on drug charges.
“We wanted to come out and show our support for Brittney Griner,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said. “She’s been there a long time, and we think that’s 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 accelerating their comeback. Initially, the NBA and WNBA had a low-key approach amid concerns over tensions between the United States and Russia since it invaded Ukraine. But the approach changed last month after the State Department determined on May 3 that Griner had been “wrongfully detained.”
Ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, commissioner Adam Silver said “we are working closely with the U.S. government and outside experts to try to expedite his release in any way we can.” The Celtics also tweeted a link to the “We are BG” website, which contains a Change.org petition that calls on the White House and the Biden administration “to bring Brittney home quickly and safely.”
“We just wanted to show that togetherness and that love that we not only have in the NBA but also in the WNBA,” Williams said. “She has been a vital part of the WNBA over the years, in college, and in the impact she has had on young female athletes, in the United States and abroad. see you back in the States and reunited with her family and doing what she loves and bringing that love and tenacity that she still plays with on the court.
Celtics ignore Green’s scouting report
As he scanned the box score after the Warriors lost in Game 1, Green focused on the Celtics’ 3-point shot led by Marcus Smart (4 for 7), Al Horford (6 for 8) and Derrick White (5-for-8). Green shrugged and said, “It’ll be fine.
The not-so-subtle implication: The Warriors don’t believe Horford and White can sustain those prolific outside shooting numbers. Green said so on his own podcast.
“We knew what their game plan was, so it’s up to us to shoot,” White said. “He said what he said. Just going into Game 2, we just have the right mindset to do whatever it takes to help us win games.
Will Payton play in Game 2?
The Warriors finally cleared Gary Payton II to play in Game 1, ending an eight-game absence while nursing a broken left elbow. Still, Payton stayed on the bench like a healthy scratch.
“I still didn’t feel comfortable playing meaningful minutes for him,” Kerr said. “I thought and the training staff felt he needed a little more time. I anticipate it will be available for more than that tomorrow.
Kerr said he considered inserting Payton for “a late game stoppage.” Although Kerr said Payton’s conditioning remained sharp, Kerr had also harbored concerns about Payton’s shooting and ball handling since suffering an elbow injury on his dominant arm.
Nonetheless, Payton said he remains “available” and “ready to go.”
“I try to tell him I’m ready every day,” Payton said of Kerr. “I hope 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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