In his final press conference of this season, Danny Green said he thought the Sixers “skipped some steps” and “got too comfortable.”
Green, who was sidelined for the final four games of the Sixers’ second-round series defeat to the Hawks with a right calf strain, expanded on the flaws he noticed in the team’s mentality on the Takeoff with John Clark podcast.
“Not saying we didn’t respect Atlanta, but I think we expected to just win — skipping steps and thinking it was going to happen, and not actually trying to make it happen. … We thought we were the better team, and I think a lot of people out there could argue the same,” Green told Clark. “But they played better, they were healthier and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. We didn’t take them seriously enough and we kind of skipped some steps. We just thought it was going to happen instead of making it happen, and that comes with maturity.
“If I was out there, I think I would’ve helped with some of that maturity — maybe. There’s no guarantee. We don’t know, but I would like to think it would’ve at least made a bit of a difference and we could’ve at least been moving on to the next round. Who knows — would’ve, could’ve, should’ve — and it didn’t happen. The healthiest teams are usually the ones that are the last teams standing. And because we weren’t healthy, that’s the reason why we were knocked out early.”
The Sixers’ loss to Atlanta snapped a mini-streak of two consecutive NBA championships for Green. The 34-year-old won titles with the 2014 Spurs, 2019 Raptors and 2020 Lakers.
After being traded to the Sixers, a team that had been the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2019-20 season and was swept by the Celtics in the first round, he identified some issues with the culture.
“From Day 1 when (head coach Doc Rivers) got here, I knew there was a long ways to go and he had a lot cut out for him. … Not saying it was a terrible organization or a terrible team, but you could tell the habits needed to change,” Green said. “You could tell a lot of things needed to be changed. It wasn’t going to happen overnight. It was something that was going to take some months, maybe a year or two. We put it together faster than I expected and actually were more successful than I expected, which is why we were so disappointed, because we know we had a golden opportunity — and the potential of this team, how good we could be.
“But from Day 1, I thought it was going to take some time for this team to get it right, get it in order and get that championship culture, that atmosphere and those habits of doing things the right way and being the ultimate professionals here. Guys actually adapted and adjusted pretty well, for the most part, but there’s still some ways to go. I’m sure Doc’s going to get them right. I’m sure (president of basketball operations) Daryl Morey’s going to make the right decisions and moves that he needs to. (General manager Elton Brand) is a big key in that. I’m interested to see how it goes with draft night and free agency.”
Green is one of the Sixers’ four unrestricted free agents. If he returns to Philadelphia, it doesn’t sound like he has any serious doubts about his teammates’ competitive drive.
“I think they all love the game and they want to win,” he said. “They for sure care. Obviously (Joel Embiid) shows it a little more with his emotions. They’re just not great at expressing it through the media or certain routes. But all these guys here want to compete and want to win, and want to be great. You can see in their day-to-day activities, how they operate. They just don’t know how to yet. They’ve just got to be guided, and that’s where Doc comes in. That’s where me, Dwight (Howard), George Hill — that’s where we come in and teach them, and show them how to win.
“It doesn’t start just in the game, on the court with the tip-off, it starts way before that. It starts in preseason; it starts with stretching; it starts with how you operate on the road; how you’re not late to the plane. Little things like that. Those habits of showing up every day and being there for your teammate and having his back — those habits are what you need to build from Day 1, to build a championship team.”
You can listen to the full podcast here.