BOSTON — Draymond Green said he wasn’t “thrilled” when Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr pulled him out Friday night with under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 4 in Boston.
While Green did come up with two big plays on a crucial possession with just over a minute to go to help the Warriors pull out a 107-97 series-evening win, he had to come to grips with sitting for nearly four minutes in the thick of the fourth quarter before being subbed in and out a few times for situational defense.
“I’m definitely never thrilled coming out of the game with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter in a must-win game,” Green said. “I’m not going to sit here and act like I was thrilled. I’m a competitor.
“But if that’s what Coach decides, then you roll with it. I had to keep my head in the game and whenever I went back in, try to make some plays. That was just my mindset.”
Green’s offensive struggles in the Finals continued as he missed six of seven shots before finishing with 2 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals in 32 minutes.
With the Celtics up 90-86 with 7:32 remaining, Kerr subbed Kevon Looney (11 rebounds and six points) and Andrew Wiggins (17 points and 16 rebounds) in for Green and Nemanja Bjelica.
After Marcus Smart made a free throw out of that timeout to push the lead to five, the Warriors outscored Boston 11-3 to take a 97-94 lead with Green out.
“We took him out and put Loon in around maybe 7:40, which was our plan, anyway,” Kerr explained. “But Loon was playing so well and Jordan Poole was playing so well, so we just stayed with the group.”
Told that Green did not look thrilled to sit, Kerr said he didn’t see Green’s reaction but that he never wants his players to be happy about being taken out.
Green is shooting 6-for-26, including 0-for-9 from 3-point range, and has scored a total of 17 points with 18 fouls in the Finals. He’s averaging 7.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” Kerr said. “Came back in. Made huge plays down the stretch. He finishes a game with 4 steals, 8 assists, 9 boards.
“Look, this is a tough series for him to score because of Boston’s size and athleticism, but he’s still impacting the game at a huge level. And he knows we’re just going to do whatever it takes to win.”
After some situational substitutions by Kerr with Green and Poole, Green made his biggest plays of the night, grabbing an offensive rebound off a Klay Thompson missed 3-pointer and then later driving and dishing to Looney for a layup that pushed the Warriors up 102-97 with 1:04 left.
Still, to have Green sit late in a must-win Finals game was a rare sight.
“There’s so much trust in how we do things,” said Stephen Curry, who had 43 points and 10 rebounds. “And decisions that Coach makes and responsibility falls on us as players; that Loon went in there, dominated the paint, got us some big rebounds, created a presence. Draymond came back in and had some juice and some life on the defensive end.
“We obviously understand it’s just about winning. … We’ve all been on the side where it doesn’t go your way from the top all the way to the bottom. It’s not fun. It’s not something you readily accept, but you understand the big picture, and obviously especially when it pays off. So it’s more so the trust in Loon and what he’s able to do than any kind of like situation with Draymond.”
With the Finals tied at 2-2 and the Warriors looking to swing the series in their favor back at home in Game 5, Kerr said he will do “whatever it takes” to win.
“I’ve always been on the bandwagon of if you’ve got something and it’s rolling, you stick with it,” Green said. “So it is what it is.”