Draymond Green rediscovers shooting touch in Warriors' Game 1 win vs. Clippers

Draymond Green rediscovers shooting touch in Warriors' Game 1 win vs. Clippers

OAKLAND -- For much of the regular season, Warriors forward Draymond Green faced what he'd like to call a "gimmicky" defense whenever he received the ball at the top of the key.

The defense, in which Green's man sags in the paint and dares the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year to take a shot, often led to a miss and easy transition opportunities for the other team.

In recent weeks, Green has made a habit of making teams pay for the open looks, shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc since the All-Star break. Now, after making two of his four 3-pointers in Saturday's 121-104 Game 1 win over the Clippers in their NBA first-round playoff series, Green is confident in the shot that once eluded him.

"Yeah, my s*** working now," said Green, who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Finding a rhythm from beyond the arc has been a struggle for the last few seasons. After shooting a career-high 38.8 percent from 3-point range during the 2015-16 season, Green has seen his 3-point percentage dwindle in each subsequent campaign, bottoming out at 28.5 percent this year.

Green's struggles have allowed teams to adjust to his newfound shortcomings. Perhaps the greatest example of a team neglecting Green's role in Golden State's offense came in a Christmas Day matchup against the Lakers, when Los Angeles gave Green at least 10 feet to take his 3-point shot, making the forward hesitate.

“I’ve got to be better. I kind of f***ed our whole offense up, and it kinda messed the flow of the game up," Green said at the time. "I’ve just got to be better. …

"They was playing that gimmick defense, and I was really hesitant to shoot and hesitant to make plays. I just wasn’t aggressive enough. It allowed the gimmicks to work. And then it kinda threw everyone else out of a rhythm, and we never found a rhythm after that. … That gimmick defense, I should be able to pick that apart. I didn’t tonight.”

Coinciding with Green's poor shooting was his bad bill of health. Through Golden State's first 25 games, Green shot just 22.4 percent from beyond the arc, as he battled injuries to his knee, ankle and toe. 

However, following the All-Star break, Green found the shooting stroke that eluded him for nearly three years, averaging 37.1 percent from 3-point range for the last 24 games of the regular season. 

"I'm healthy," Green told NBC Sports Bay Area. "All year, I was battling injuries and my body just didn't feel good. I'm healthy, and that makes all the difference in the world. I missed a ton of time, and I was trying to find a rhythm." 

[RELATED: Steph's shooting wizardry again casts a spell on Clippers]

On Saturday, the Clippers employed the "gimmick" defense once more, sagging forward Montrezl Harrell into the paint any time Green was at the top of the key. In response, Green made the Clippers pay. He sank his first two 3-pointers and yelled multiple obscenities toward LA's bench at Oracle Arena, loving every moment of the exchange. 

"You know, all season. I didn't really care," Green said. "But I love this time of year. My s*** work now, so whatever."

Matt Barnes was on verge of NFL pursuit before Warriors offered chance

Matt Barnes was on verge of NFL pursuit before Warriors offered chance

Matt Barnes wasn't guaranteed or promised anything in his NBA career.

In fact, the former Warriors forward nearly left hoops in 2006 to pursue football.

"I was on the verge of trying to jump into the NFL," Barnes recently explained to Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald. "I was still working out -- basketball and football -- during the summertime because basketball hadn't really seemed to hit.

"I had played four years up to that point and bounced around -- been on a handful of teams -- and just really wasn't getting a fair shot."

Barnes was selected in the second round (No. 46 overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft, but spent his entire rookie season in the G League with the Fayetteville Patriots.

He didn't make his NBA debut until Jan. 19, 2004 when the Clippers gave him a shot with a 10-day contract.

Barnes signed with the Sacramento Kings in October 2004, and appeared in 43 games before he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

That brings us to the summer of 2006.

"I was in Sacramento (his hometown) at the time. Baron Davis called me (and said), 'Hey, we're gonna have an open run at the facility (in Oakland). If you're not doing nothing, come down.' I wasn't doing nothing. Hopped in my car, drove down an hour and a half. 

"Played well -- not knowing that Nellie (Warriors coach Don Nelson) was watching the whole time upstairs through the offices. We finished playing, he comes down, tells me I played well (and asks) where I'm going to camp. I was just like, 'You know coach, I don't really have any plans.'

"He told me, he's like, 'I can't promise you anything. I think we have 16 guarantees and 19 people coming to training camp, but if you play like you did today I'll give you a chance.' And that was the first time a coach really had a conversation with me. That's all I needed.

"(I) made the team and continued to use the games as practices and eventually worked my way into the lineup. The rest is history. That's kind of when I put my name on the map."

Over 76 games (23 starts) during the "We Believe" 2006-07 season, Barnes averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals, while shooting nearly 37 percent from deep. In 11 playoff games, he averaged 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and shot over 42 percent from 3-point range.

[RELATED: Barnes reveals 'We Believe' Warriors documentary in works]

After one more season with the Dubs in 2007-08, Barnes played for the Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Kings.

He returned to the Warriors in early March 2017 after Kevin Durant sustained a knee injury, and became an NBA champion.

The 40-year-old currently co-hosts a fantastic podcast with Stephen Jackson called "All the Smoke," and he is terrific as an analyst on TV.

It's crazy to think how different his life could have been had he not picked up BD's phone call 14 years ago ...

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[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Damian Lillard torches Dan Orlovsky for 'spoiled', 'entitled' remarks

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Damian Lillard torches Dan Orlovsky for 'spoiled', 'entitled' remarks

We live in an era of hot takes. Being correct isn't as important as being noticed. Ratings triumph over truth.

It leads to a situation in which television pundits frequently spout off misguided and easily disproven snap judgments without understanding the true context of the situation. Why give an accurate assessment when a bombastic quote can drive exponentially more traffic?

Most times, they aren't held accountable. On Thursday, though, Damian Lillard wasn't going to let that fly.

Lillard recently announced that he would sit out games if and when the NBA resumed the season if the Trail Blazers didn't have a chance to qualify for the playoffs and compete for a championship. While that is entirely reasonable, former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky joined ESPN's "Get Up" on Wednesday and put his foot in his mouth in criticizing Lillard's decision.

"How can you sit there and go, ‘Nope, I’m not going to play, but understand that there are people out there that don’t have that choice," Orlovsky said. "They have to go to work. They have to go earn their money. I struggle with sitting here and going ‘you don’t come off, in some way, a spoiled and entitled brat by saying I’m not going to play."

Spoiled and entitled? Seriously? Lillard is anything but, and he didn't let that idiotic comment slide.

Let's see. Lillard grew up in a rough part of Oakland. He didn't have a single D-1 scholarship offer coming out of high school. He attended a mid-major at Weber State University and built himself up to become the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In the time since, he has been named Rookie of the Year, made four All-NBA teams, selected to five All-Star games and become the face of his franchise. Not to mention, he continually gives back to his Oakland community, including hosting an annual picnic and donating to his high school.

What exactly is spoiled about that? And Orlovsky has the nerve to call Lillard entitled?!

Orlovsky, as Lillard reminded him, was a career backup. 

Across 12 career starts, he posted a 2-10-0 record. He is most known for unknowingly stepping out of the back of the end zone for a safety. And this is the guy who we're supposed to view as an authority on the circumstances of a superstar?

Come. On.

Lillard doesn't back down, on the court or off of it. He didn't relent in calling Orlovsky out, and to no one's surprise, the comments eventually were walked back ... sort of.

I suppose you can credit Orlovsky for acknowledging his mistake and apologizing, but I won't. If not for Lillard defending himself, the comments likely would have gone unchecked and further emboldened the hot-take culture.

[RELATED: Warriors could practice again at Chase in next two weeks]

Maybe Orlovsky will think twice -- or at least do a little research -- before opening his mouth next time.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]