Draymond Green throws major LeBron James shade at Celtics

SAN FRANCISCO — Against second stint LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers or against the 2021-22 Boston Celtics? Well, that’s not exactly the question Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green was asked, though He was asked to compare the mental challenge faced by the two teams.

As the Warriors and Celtics prepare for what may be the last game of the NBA season, both teams are making final preparations for Game 6 on Thursday night. Both teams now know each other very well. In five games, Golden State and Boston have played a relatively even series despite the Warriors leading 3-2.

Boston seemed to take control on several occasions this series, stealing Game 1 on the road and going 2-1 at home in Game 4. Both times, the Warriors have responded, showing their discipline and mental toughness to the full.

Draymond Green was a member of the Warriors teams that faced LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals from 2015-2018. In those four duels, the Green’s Warriors won three of them to bring home the championship.

“It’s not like playing mentally against LeBron James, who I think is arguably the smartest guy to ever play that game.” Green responded when asked to compare the two matchups. “Not *one* of them, he *is* arguably the smartest guy to set foot on a basketball court. To say it’s comparable is disrespect to LeBron and a lie to you.

However, the Celtics have other attributes that make them an equally tough opponent for the Warriors.

“Well, saying that, it’s a challenge mentally because these guys are super athletic,” Green continued. 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 confronted 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 was huge mentally in this series and I’m just trying to understand them and get ahead of them.

The Warriors saw it all as they took on LeBron James’ teams. In four matchups, a series was decided in four, five, six and seven games. Players have been banned or injured for a blatant accumulation of foul points. None of this made it easier to face James, aside from adding Kevin Durant to possibly the best team in basketball.

“[This is] not so much a chess game as against LeBron, who dissects every move in his computer as if 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.”

Draymond Green has been incredibly complementary to Celtic guard Marcus Smart, who has had a very consistent Finals streak.

“You have a guy over there in Marcus Smart who is extremely smart and it’s like a chess game going 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.”

The Boston Celtics entered this series with zero games of NBA Finals experience. Compare that to LeBron James, who is not only the best basketball player of this generation, but also appeared in eight straight NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’re just two different animals.

“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 Warriors themselves are in their sixth NBA Finals in eight seasons. On Thursday night, they’ll be trying to make it to four NBA championships since 2015. Game 6 starts at 6pm PST.

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