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Playing against the Boston Celtics was a challenge for Draymond Green and his Golden State Warriors teammates.
Just not quite at LeBron James level.
“It’s not like playing mentally against LeBron James, who I think is probably the smartest guy that’s ever played that game,” Green told reporters Wednesday. “None of – he probably is one the the smartest guy to ever set foot on a basketball court. So to say it compares to that is disrespectful to LeBron and a lie to you [the media].”
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Draymond says the Celtics are talented but it would be “disrespectful” to compare that series to how it was, LeBron pic.twitter.com/MTXmW5JfT3
The Warriors played James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in four straight NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018, with Golden State winning three championships. James’ only win in that rivalry, the 2016 Finals, saw Kevin Durant sign with the Warriors and forever changed both teams’ trophy cases.
On the cusp of ring four after taking a 3-2 lead against the Celtics en route to Thursday’s sixth game, Green says Boston presented a different challenge with their athleticism.
“It’s a mental challenge because these guys are super athletic, they’re super young and fast and strong and … then they’re obviously super talented,” Green said. “When you’re faced with that, you have to try and reconsider a guy. If a guy is faster than me, how can I beat him by a point? I have to anticipate it. I have to think. I have to try to understand what he’s getting at. I think that was tremendous in this series from a mental standpoint and just try to understand them and get ahead of them.
Aside from that, Green said that playing against James was a “game of chess” because his unique basketball IQ allows him to dissect plays on the fly. LeBron has flashed a photographic memory of in-game situations that demonstrates the ability to recall individual plays in incredible detail.
While Green said no one could compare to James’s basketball intellect, he singled out Marcus Smart as the “brains” of the Celtics operation.