Why Draymond Green, the NBA’s best defender, is at his best when guarding nobody

Joey Zelenka

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Before the NBA playoffs began, I listed 31 set plays and player quirks that these 16 teams use that you need to look closely to discover. Call them the Easter Eggs or the cheat sheet of the NBA Playoffs. Click the link to learn more about them. Each night, I’ll round up examples of those 31 set plays and examples of other interesting plays or player quirks that you may have missed.

PREVIOUSLY: April 15-16 | April 17 | April 18 | April 19

By now, you may have seen the clip of Draymond Green guarding all five Blazers players on one third-quarter possession of the Warriors’ Game 3 win on Saturday. If not, here it is, via Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Green began the play on Evan Turner, slid under the hoop to help on Maurice Harkless and Jusuf Nurkic, closed out on C.J. McCollum, and got his hand in Damian Lillard’s face on the three-pointer. For his efforts, he received no credit in the traditional box score. Yet without his roaming, no fewer than three Trail Blazers would have received high-quality open shots.

That activity was his modus operandi throughout Golden State’s four-game sweep. He tortured Portland with a devastating display of Easter Egg 25: The ability to put out any defensive fire, wherever it is. He was the enforcer roaming outside the usual defensive chain of command, a Darth Vader to Ron Adams’ Emperor Palpatine. (Though it’s hard to imagine the Warriors’ defensive guru as an evil tyrant.)

by Mike Prada

 

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Why Draymond Green, the NBA’s best defender, is at his best when guarding nobody