Golden State Warriors‘ head coach Steve Kerr made an almost unthinkable decision in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics Friday night, yanking Draymond Green from the floor for a critical stretch of the pivotal NBA Finals game.
Green sat down with approximately seven and a half minutes to go in Game 4 and came back with approximately three and a half minutes left to play. The media asked Green about the move during the postgame press conference, a question to which he responded with the following answer:
I’m definitely never thrilled coming out of the game with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter in a must-win game. I’m not going to sit here and act like I was thrilled. I’m a competitor.
But, at the end of the day, if that’s what Coach [Kerr] decides, then you roll with it. You know, I had to keep my head in the game and, you know, whenever I went back in, try to make some plays. That was just my mindset.
I’ve always been of the — on the bandwagon of if you’ve got something and it’s rolling, you stick with it. So it is what it is.
Kerr still played Green 33 minutes throughout the course of the evening, during which he tallied nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals. However, the forward also shot 1 for 7 from the field and scored only two points, while also committing two turnovers, per ESPN statistics.
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Green Elaborated Further on Benching Via Postgame Podcast
Green also spoke about his benching on his popular video podcast “The Draymond Green Show,” the most recent episode of which aired following Golden State’s victory Friday night.
As part of his comments, Green took responsibility for playing poorly throughout the course of these NBA Finals, in which he has shot worse than 31% from the floor and has committed more personal fouls (18) than he has scored points (17) across four games.
“Obviously everyone wants to talk about me sitting from the seven-and-a-half-minute mark to the three-and-a-half-minute mark,” Green said. “Did Coach Kerr talk to me about that? Absolutely not, nor did he need to.”
“I’ve been struggling as we all can see,” he continued. “As long as we win the game … I don’t care.”
Green did admit that the move bothered him, but chalked that up to his competitive nature.
“Was I pissed off and frustrated? Absolutely,” Green admitted. “Seven minutes to go in an extremely important game. You know, we can’t go down 3-1. You don’t want to go to down 3-1, and I’m coming out of the game. I was livid, but I credit my teammates.”
Kerr Opens Up on Decision to Pull Green From Game in 4th Quarter
Kerr also addressed the issue during Friday night’s media session, explaining his decision to sit Green in the context of how well center Kevon Looney and guard Jordan Poole were performing throughout the game.
The coach also covered his choice to employ a rarely seen strategy in the NBA, in which he substituted Poole and Green for one another based on whether the Warriors were playing offense or defense.
“Yeah, we took him out and put [Looney] in around maybe the eight-minute mark — maybe, 7:40 — which was our plan, anyway. But [Looney] was playing so well and Jordan Poole was playing so well, so we just stayed with the group,” Kerr said. “We generally do that. Like most coaches, if you’ve got a group that’s going well, you just stay with it. The last few minutes we just went to kind of an offense-defense pattern with [Green] and [Poole] alternating.”
Kerr has faced media scrutiny throughout the Finals for several decisions — two of the primary criticisms being his choice to sit Steph Curry for a total of 10 minutes in the Dubs’ Game 1 loss, which some believed was too long, and his choice to ride with Green over Looney for more minutes across each of the first four games.
It is difficult for Kerr to play Green and Looney together due to each player’s limited offensive skill set, leaving Kerr to often choose between one or the other. Looney’s minutes jumped from 17 in Game 3 to 28 in Game 4, and it showed on the stat sheet.
After losing the battle on the boards to the Celtics by a tally of 47-31 on Wednesday night, Golden State out-rebounded Boston 55-42 in the next game. The Warriors also bumped their second-chance opportunities via offensive rebounds from just six in Game 3 up to 16 in the following contest. Looney grabbed seven boards himself Wednesday night, following up that effort with 11 rebounds on Friday.