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."
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."