Draymond Green says facing Celtics doesn’t compare to mental challenge of LeBron James Finals matchups

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics have given opponents a lot of headaches all year since their second-half turnaround led to a trip to the NBA Finals. They have the option to play with two bigs in the starting XI or easily downsize to a small ball when Derrick White comes off the bench. That versatility put many of their opponents to the test during their postseason run, but the same cannot be said for Draymond Green when asked if he could compare it to his toughest mentally matchups in the NBA Finals.

Green didn’t hold back when he explained that mentally, one player is still head and shoulders above the rest.

“Well, it’s not like mentally playing against LeBron James,” Green said ahead of Game 6, “who I think is probably the smartest guy to ever play that game. Neither of them, he’s probably the smartest guy to set foot on a basketball court. To say it’s comparable is disrespect to LeBron and a lie to you.

“Well, saying that, mentally it’s challenging because these guys are super athletic. They’re super young and fast and strong and all the things we know and have heard throughout this series. You are those things. And then they’re obviously super talented, and when you’re faced with that, you have to try to outdo a guy. If a guy is faster than me, how can I beat him to a point? I have to anticipate and think. I have to try to understand what he’s getting at. I think that’s been huge mentally in this series and I’m just trying to understand them and get ahead of them.

Ime Udoka made many savvy adjustments in the postseason and may have a few more in store for the Warriors in Game 6. However, Green placed James in a different category with his handling of the game.

“(Facing the Celtics is ) is not so much a chess game as against LeBron, who analyzes every move in his computer, as in real time. Like it’s just a skill that not many people have. Not many people can come in and sit here and find a seven minute to four minute random stretch in the second quarter and give you every game like the T and not miss a shot. There aren’t many people who can do that.

“Well, when they say that, they have a guy over there in Marcus Smart who is extremely smart and it’s like a chess game going up against him. He’s the brains of this team, so to speak. I think every team has that guy, that’s the brains of that team, and they have that in Marcus Smart, a guy I have tremendous respect for and his basketball IQ. So it’s definitely a challenge. Ime is extremely smart. We know his family tree. So the challenge is there, but you can’t match it against LeBron’s. Like I said, he’s probably the smartest guy we’ve ever seen play basketball.”

The Celtics and Warriors face off in Game 6 on Thursday night at 9 p.m.

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