You remember the pain of losing big games more than the joy of winning them. Draymond Green is off to Team USA & Olympic basketball duty, but the NBA Finals loss with the Golden State Warriors is something he won’t shake off any time soon, probably never.
The Warriors, the 2015 NBA champions, had a 3-1 lead heading into game 5 of the finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Green was suspended from that game for hitting LeBron James at the end of game 4, racking up enough flagrant foul offenses throughout the playoffs to earn a one-game suspension. The Warriors lost game 5 at home, and lost control of the series. Green played badly in his return for game 6, another loss, this time in Cleveland. He wasn’t bad, probably the best on the Warriors in game 7, but in the first close game of the series, the Warriors failed in the ending, losing 93-89 and became the first team to let a 3-1 lead in the finals slip away from them.
The Warriors and especially Green know that talk about only being even with the Cavs over the last two years doesn’t mean anything. People remember the last thing that happened, and the Warriors were coming off a 73-9 regular season. They were looking like the best team in NBA history, or at least one of them. But you don’t get to enter that club with just one title. The regular season records are diminished the moment the playoffs end with a loss.
Green, who is playing for the American team in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, knows these things pass. They had a shot at winning a second consecutive championship and blew it. Part of it was his suspension. Is he blaming himself for the team’s collapse? He won’t admit it, but unlike his teammates, who were busy trash talking and dissing LeBron James after the suspension, he’s tried to stay away from that, simply saying there are things he has learned from these playoffs. He doesn’t show remorse for hitting players, only for not being there for his teammates.
The Warriors don’t have a lot of turnover in their roster this offseason, which should put them as the automatic favorites to win the NBA title heading into next season. That would be extremely true if Kevin Durant signs with them. They don’t have the cap space, but will probably be willing to move pieces like Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala in order to make room for Durant, who has other meetings lined up, and is rumored to be leaning towards signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, staying put.
Green was a huge reason why the Warriors won the title and were so good this season. Some thing he’s their most important player. Obviously, if Durant arrives, his role will change. Things will change regardless next season. The Warriors won’t do things exactly the same, as the league never stays in one place. It’ll be interesting to see if their mistakes in the NBA Finals resonate as to change their style and ideas during the regular season already, or is it all about building up those changes for the playoffs, making it a long year wait of planning revenge.