Warriors

Draymond Green praises Damian Lillard after incredible buzzer-beater

Draymond Green praises Damian Lillard after incredible buzzer-beater

OAKLAND – The latest shot heard ‘round the world occurred Tuesday night in Portland, Ore., on national TV, before the disbelieving eyes of NBA stars accustomed to buzzer-beating heroics.

Oakland’s own Damian Lillard, however, shot his way through any pretense of aloofness. HIs game-winning, series-clinching 37-foot jumper over Oklahoma City defensive ace Paul George was an act of such hubris that it sent dozens of players around the NBA running to their phones to praise the way the Trail Blazers star punctuated his 50-point performance.

Draymond Green, basketball aficionado that he is, was among them, tweeting out a three-word message – “Damn Dame! Wow!” – late Tuesday night.

“Yeah, that was crazy,” Green said Wednesday after Warriors shootaround ahead of Game 5 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“That whole series he played was pretty amazing,” he added. “Dame has been a great player in this league, a guy who I’ve been respecting. But I gained a lot more respect after just the entire series he put together with the back-and-forth between him and Russ (Westbrook) and the way he kept his poise and just continued to lead the team. That was amazing.”

Lillard and Westbrook are bitter rivals, with the Thunder guard doing most of the stoking. They are a study in contrasts, Westbrook the brash trash-talker always running hot while Lillard’s style is understated, rich with swagger dipped in ice.

Green and Lillard are friendly rivals, partly because both entered the league to the shrugs and yawns of skeptics.

“Obviously, he can score the ball with the best of them,” Green said. “But Dame has a chip on his shoulder and has since the day he walked into this league. Just the way he’s grinding, he plays like a guy from Oakland, with a chip on his shoulder. A guy who has been doubted forever. And that showed up in a major way in that series.”

Among the other high-profile athletes to comment on social media were LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jamal Crawford, Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Love, Trae Young, Allen Iverson, Candace Parker and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

[RELATED: Draymond vows to play through pain]

Draymond also responded to George’s postgame statement that Lillard took a “bad shot.”

“There are still bad shots, even if they go in,” Green said. “But I don’t know if you could really say that then, if they’re getting 50. I don’t know if you get 50 if any shot is a bad shot, because heat checks and everything are allowed at that point if you get 50. Incredible performance.”

Draymond Green explains how he's able to elevate his game in playoffs

Draymond Green explains how he's able to elevate his game in playoffs

Programming note: Watch the NBA Finals pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Draymond Green is almost always at his best when his best is required.

Therefore, the Warriors forward embodies "competitive greatness," which is at the very top of John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success."

"Over the course of my career, I've been able to elevate my level of play in the postseason -- whether that was NCAA Tournament or playoffs," Draymond told reporters after practice Thursday. "I don't know. I think some people kind of just have that. The stakes are bigger, and you're able to increase your level of focus; increase your intensity level.

"I'm blessed and thankful that I have that. I can't sit here and act like, 'it's just me and macho.' I think some people have that and some people don't. I think I'm just blessed to have that ability ... to be able to rise to that occasion."

If you don't believe this to be true, let's compare the three-time NBA champion's per-game numbers:

2014-15

  • Regular season: 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.3 blocks
  • Playoffs: 13.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks
     

2015-16

  • Regular season: 14.0 points. 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks
  • Playoffs: 15.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.8 blocks


2016-17

-Regular season: 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.4 blocks
-Playoffs: 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.6 blocks

2017-18

  • Regular season: 11.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks
  • Playoffs: 10.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.5 blocks


2018-19

  • Regular season: 7.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.1 blocks
  • Playoffs: 13.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.7 blocks


The majority of players get worse in the playoffs when things get harder. It's the opposite for Draymond.

The day before the Warriors completed the sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals, the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year said he views playoff games as "life or death."

Has that mentality always been there?

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"My third year [the 2014-15 NBA season], when I was a starter, it's been that way since," Draymond told reporters at the time. "That's just the way it feels to me. I remember the first time we won the Finals -- it was like somebody had a clamp on my lungs and I didn't breathe well for seven weeks. And then when we won, it was like, 'Wow. Someone just took the clamp and I could breathe again.'

"That's just how it's felt for me since I've been a starter and playing in the playoffs. And I try to keep that feeling because it means something. And I think it should mean something.

"Leave it all out there and if it don't work out, you can live with that. But I can't live with myself knowing that I didn't leave it all out there when it mattered most."

The Warriors are lucky to have Draymond Green.

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Matt Barnes believes Kevin Durant injury more serious than played out to be

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Matt Barnes believes Kevin Durant injury more serious than played out to be

Matt Barnes knows what it's like to suffer an injury as intricate as the one Kevin Durant is dealing with, and he also knows how the people surrounding him are handling it. 

"This is a serious injury that I think they tried to downplay," the retired NBA veteran said on "Undisputed" on Friday.

He said part of downplaying it is to keep the buzz off of KD in case there's a scenario where he misses the remainder of the playoffs.

Barnes also added he's had a similar injury in which it took a month to get back on the court. Mind you, Barnes, who was also dealing with a calf strain, said he had a small tear as well. , 

Barnes called it a "tricky injury," and something that does take a while to recover from -- so much so, he said he believes the players themselves are even preparing to be without Durant.

KD exited Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets on May 9 with a strained right calf as the initial diagnosis.

[RELATED: Bob Myers explains KD tricky injury]

I spoke with Dr. Alexis Colvin, an orthopedic surgeon at The Mount Sinai Health System in New York City about Durant's injury. She hadn't looked at his MRI, but she did say, like Barnes, a lot of the time the rehabilitation process with these injuries you don't know until the impact is there. 

Tricky indeed.