Warriors

Draymond paying full retail for misdemeanors of the past

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Draymond paying full retail for misdemeanors of the past

Draymond Green is paying full retail for the misdemeanors of the past, and I will let you argue this point any way you wish.

All I know is this: If he hasn’t figured out the distance between “Draymond being Draymond” and “Draymond Being An Accumulated Hindrance” now, he may never do so.

The NBA reviewed his latest brush with the third rail, a disrespect-meets-groin-meets-argument in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and will miss Game 5 because of his accumulated behavioral demerits.

And yes, the incident itself is of little consequence. But this is about Green’s willingness to allow his anger to free-range, and the NBA’s unwillingness to wait for him to self-correct.

[RELATED: Warriors' Draymond Green suspended for Game 5 of NBA Finals]

Green is not a thug. He is not a cheater. He is not bad for the game. Anyone who engages in that is abandoning rationality and evidence in pursuit of either Cleveland fandom or just a need to be rhetorically frothy in search of a hot take.

But the NBA gets to decide how close he gets to run to the line because, well, the NBA is his employer, and it is not as though he hadn’t been told and told and told again that he needs an inner governor.

And that is its own league problem. Between the time-honored NBA Playoffs anything-goes-until-we-say-otherwise ethic and the players’ acceptance of those rules and willingness to push even them to their logical extremes, this result is to be expected.

In fact, Adam Silver, as the spokesman for the 30 billionaires who own him, is now stuck for a legislated response in the off-season, one that is both draconian and consistent.

Specifically:

1.        To cut back the number of allowable technical fouls in the regular season and postseason to 10 and three (arbitrary, true, but message-enriched).

2.        To make groin shots, inadvertent or entirely intended, suspendable offenses, and not with just one game but several. If the idea that players cannot control their bodies is accepted, everything can be called an accident and no behavior can be regulated. The league has to pick one or the other, because this middle ground thing isn’t working.

3.        To do a dramatically better job of training officials to police potential on-court issues through common sense rather than waiting for the league to make ex post facto rulings. The Danny Crawford-Mike Callahan-Jason Phillips crew, trying to let the fellows play, let the game get too grabby and pushy and mouthy, and even their tempered response to the James-Green set-to was mindful of Green’s situation. It clearly didn’t work, but the league’s laughable attempt to make all officials be the same as all other officials is doomed to failure, especially if their on-court judgment is to be removed from their control.

4.        Hiring Joey Crawford to find the next generation of Joey Crawfords. The NBA’s fear of personality has given us the thinnest group of quality playoff officials in league history, and if Silver doesn’t make that a priority, it will be the first measurable failure of his reign.

But that’s the future. The now is Draymond Green paying for accumulated sins at a time when his team needs it least. The Warriors have walked a tightrope of his personality while erring regularly on the side of letting-Draymond-be-Draymond, and now their leniency has been rejected as a methodology by their own superiors.

So there is nothing to do but do the best they can at home in Game 5 without the man best equipped to neutralize the man Warrior fans will curse as the instigator of the events of Friday night.

And Green will be forced to learn the limits of his world, whether that is best for him, the Warriors and the league or not. This is the burner on the stove. Draymond Green has just learned about heat.

Warriors find rhythm on road trip with NBA playoffs’ top seed in reach

Warriors find rhythm on road trip with NBA playoffs’ top seed in reach

MINNEAPOLIS — One day after the Warriors lost by more than 30 points to the Boston Celtics in early March, Draymond Green stressed that his team needed to attain three goals during the final stretch of the season: Better execution, improved defense and homecourt advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.

Weeks later, following another embarrassing home loss to the Phoenix Suns, the defending champs seemed to fall short of all three ahead of a strenuous four-game road trip featuring three playoff teams. 

After wrapping up that trip with three wins -- including Tuesday's 117-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves -- the Warriors seem to be finding their rhythm at just the right time.

"Great trip," coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors' win. "To go 3-1 against the caliber of competition with the difficulty of the back-to-back ... really good trip." 

Tuesday's victory encapsulated Green's vision from nearly two weeks ago. Entering the matchup tied with the Denver Nuggets atop the Western Conference, the Warriors had one of their best offensive performances.

They dished out 39 assists to just 13 turnovers, and held the Timberwolves to 40 percent from the field. Stephen Curry, who struggled to find his shot in recent games, scored 22 of his game-high 36 points in the third quarter. 

The win over Minnesota also capped a four-game trip where the Warriors ended the Rockets' nine-game winning streak, and produced their best defensive performance of the season against the Thunder. Plus, they added Andrew Bogut into the fold as DeMarcus Cousins sat with an ankle injury. Over the trip, Golden State held opponents to 41.3 percent from the field and just 29.9 percent from 3-point range. 

Last season, the Warriors finished with a 7-10 record over the last 17 games. They also dealt with injuries to Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, and were locked into the West’s No. 2 seed for much of the final stretch.

After the All-Star break this season, the Warriors lost five of their first nine games. The loss at home to the lowly Suns prompted a different approach on the road. 

"It's definitely a different mindset," Kerr said. "Each game takes on more importance. Last year, I think the final 20 games, we kind of knew we were going to be the two seed, so its a little different this year, and I think it's going to help us." 

In the first game of the trip, Golden State beat Houston behind 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from Cousins. Three nights later, the Warriors held the Thunder to just 32.3 percent shooting, including a 2-of-16 performance from All-Star guard Russell Westbrook. 

"The first two games were important to us, especially after that Phoenix loss," Durant said Tuesday. "To come out and beat two teams on the road, it was probably the best two-game stretch of the season for us, and we needed that, we needed to feel good about ourselves, going on the plane, going to practice the next day."

[RELATED: Steph hits 300 3-pointers in a season ... again]

Now, with 12 games left in the season, the goals Green laid out following the loss to Boston still are within reach.

Following Tuesday's win, Golden State is a half-game up on Denver for the West's top spot, armed with a tiebreaker and a home matchup April 2. For a team that's won three championships in the last four years, this is familiar territory.

"It's always good to set goals and reach something, but for us, we know exactly where we want to be," Durant said. "We've reached the point twice, and we had fun doing it. We were a two seed last year, and we started off on the road in the Western Conference Finals and won Game 1, so it's about playing great basketball. I think everybody's in a great rhythm, groove, I think that's way more important than trying to get a seed." 

"We know what we're capable of," Curry added. "It's just a matter if we do it on a night-to-night basis."

How Jonas Jerebko came out of hibernation, helped spark Warriors' win

How Jonas Jerebko came out of hibernation, helped spark Warriors' win

After spending much of the past three months in hoops hibernation, Jonas Jerebko resurfaced Tuesday night and reminded the Warriors why they hired him last summer.

The 6-foot-10 forward came off the bench in the second quarter and stunned not only the Minnesota Timberwolves but also the Warriors by lighting up the scoreboard at a level usually reserved for the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Jerebko took three 3-pointers and made them all. His 4-of-6 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 shooting from the free-throw line translated to 14 points in nine minutes.

Who was that guy?

“I haven’t played him much at all, and the guys were taking a lot of joy from Jonas’ performance,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after a 117-107 win at Target Center. “He’s just a pro. He comes out there and hasn’t played in about a month and stays ready and does that. That’s why he is who he is.”

Jerebko scored 18 points in 18 minutes -- the first time he hit double figures since Dec. 22, when he rang up a season-high 23 points in a win over the Dallas Mavericks. For someone who hadn’t seen much action, Jerebko's timing and rhythm was flawless.

The Warriors signed Jerebko in hopes of getting some offense off the bench. To be specific, they identified the veteran power forward as someone capable of stretching the floor, making life easier for his teammates.

And for a while, they were getting what they wanted, with Jerebko drilling 37 3-pointers in his first two months as a Warrior.

But he made just 18 triples over the next three months. His shot deserted him, his minutes vanished and he became a cheerleader.

The roles were reversed Tuesday. His teammates were enjoying the Jerebko Show.

“If he knocks down those shots and keeps shooting them with confidence, he builds off that,” Kevin Durant said. “He made his first few. And then he got going. He’s driving to the rim, he’s shooting hook shots. You knock a few shots down, then your confidence is through the roof.”

Jerebko kept busy by putting in work. There were times when he wondered where he fit, if he still fit and whether he’d have another chance. He only knew that if the opportunity came, he would have to produce.

“Stay in the gym,” he said. “Get early to practice, get shots up and work on your conditioning and always stay ready. Control what you can control.

“It helps when you’ve been in the situation before, which I have. I’m confident in my abilities, so like I said, I’ve just got to stay ready and help the team out whenever they need it. That’s all I can do, and tonight was a good night.”

With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the coaching staff is assessing the roster, evaluating individuals and pondering matchups for the playoffs. They believe there will be games when Jerebko can make an impact.

If his shot is falling as it did Tuesday, that would apply to any game and any opponent.

“He fits their system well, and he can shoot the ball well,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “If you allow him to be comfortable, he’s a difference maker for that team.”

[RELATED: Steph reaches 300 3-pointers in a season for third time]

Not every defense will allow him or anybody else the privilege of comfort. Jerebko knows that. The Warriors know that.

They only hope one comfortable night can lead to a few more in the coming weeks.