For the first time in more than 1,000 days, Green joined teammates Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the court for an NBA game. Unsurprisingly, the Dubs dominated with a 126-112 home victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday, March 14. Curry returned to his MVP-caliber self with a 47-point explosion on better than 60% shooting from the field and 50% from deep on 14 attempts. But none of those were the stat of the night.
Instead it was a team statistic, specifically one that involved Curry and Green, that displayed just how dangerous this Warriors team can be with its big three healthy and clicking. The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson broke it down on Twitter Monday night.
“Telling data from the Warriors’ win over the visiting Wizards tonight. With Draymond Green ON the floor: Steph Curry 7-for-9 from 3,” Thompson wrote. “With Draymond Green OFF the floor: Steph Curry 0-for-5 from 3.”
Dubs head coach Steve Kerr backed up Thompson’s breakdown in his postgame comments, noting that Green led the team in plus/minus at +24 points in 20 minutes off the bench in his first night back following a 30-game absence due to a back injury
“The game changed immediately when he got out there in a lot of different ways. It changed for Steph right away as soon as Draymond got out there. I think he had an assist to him like five seconds in,” Kerr said. “And the chess board changes with Draymond out there with Steph. Everything looks and feels a little bit different, and it’s tougher to navigate defensively for our opponents. And I haven’t even mentioned his defense yet. Draymond changes everything for us.”
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Curry’s Recent Shooting Struggles May Already Be Over With Green’s Return
Curry is in the midst of his 13th NBA season. Over the course of the 12 that came before, he has shot less than 42% from the 3-point line only twice — 41.1% during the 2016-17 season and 24.5% during the 2019-20 season. Go ahead and toss the latter of those two examples out, as the Dubs’ point guard appeared in just five contests before a broken hand sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
The current campaign is likely to end up the third time Curry falls short of 42% from deep. He currently sports a 38.1% average from behind the arc and is heaving 11.8 tries per game from downtown, the second-highest attempt rate of his career. The stretches this season during which Curry has struggled the most from the 3-point line all have one thing in common — his running mate Green was mostly absent from the floor.
Green went down with a back injury on January 9, the same day Thompson returned from two and a half seasons on the sideline with a torn ACL followed by a ruptured achilles tendon. In the month of January, Curry shot an abysmal 32.9% from deep. Green missed 12 of the Warriors’ 15 games that month.
February was more or less the same story. Green sat out all 10 games played over those four weeks (the NBA All Star Game and coinciding break cuts games from the schedule) and Curry again struggled mightily, at least by his standards, shooting 36% from downtown.
Before Green went down, even with Thompson still out, Curry was the leading MVP candidate. Golden State was also 32-7 and leading the entire NBA in the win/loss column. Curry talked during the postgame about what it was like to have Green back on the floor Monday night.
“It’s built on 10 years of experience and chemistry and winning and an understanding of how we do things. No matter how much time we have off, we can get right back to it,” Curry said. “It’s crazy to think it’s the first time me, Klay and Draymond have been on the court in a very, very long time, so we want to keep building on that. We know each other like the back of our hand, and we compliment each other very well, and there’s a lot of confidence in that.”
Warriors Talking Title Publicly With Green, Thompson Back Healthy
The Warriors are not going to recapture championship stature overnight considering it had been more than 33 months since the big three had taken the court together on the same night. That said, the scent of title contention has returned to the San Francisco air — and Green can smell it.
“Whether we’re the 2-seed or the 3-seed we’re going to win the championship, so don’t really matter,” Green said. “I called it months ago.”
With their victory Monday night, Golden State won its fourth game in a row and closed the gap on the Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams are 47-22 with 13 games to play, though the Grizzlies are up 2-1 in the season series and hold the tiebreak. The two teams will play once more when the Warriors travel to Memphis on March 28.