The Warriors face a potential Draymond Green dilemma after a major fourth-quarter stretch comes with him off the bench

Early in the fourth quarter of Game Four of the 2022 NBA Finals Friday night, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr made a bold decision. With his side trailing the Boston Celtics, and in danger of falling 3-1 in the series, he sent Draymond Green off the bench, then kept him there for about four minutes.

Such a move would have been unimaginable in the past. Green was one of the driving forces of the ruling warrior dynasty, and if there was anyone you wanted in a close-to-win game, it was him. But this isn’t 2016 anymore, and Kerr’s move proved to be the right one. The Warriors went on a round 11-3 with Greene off the bench to take the lead forever, and tied the Boston Celtics 2-2.

Kerr said Green’s exit initially was part of their rotation plan, and that he didn’t bring him back because the group that was on the floor was playing so well. While Green understood this decision, he wanted to be in court.

“I certainly wasn’t thrilled to walk away with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter in a game that must be won,” Green said. “I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m cheerful. I’m a competitor.”

“But, at the end of the day, if that’s what the coach decided, then you’re going to deal with it. You know, I had to keep my head in the game, and you know, whenever I got back in, try to do some plays. That was just my mentality. You know, Don’t make too much of it. I’ve always been a who-in a bandwagon if you have something and it’s rolling, you stick to it. So it’s what it is.”

At the moment, there is no time to think about the future or the potential repercussions from the coaching decision; Kerr needed to make a move to win the game. It was a tough call, but he did it and it worked. Now, the warriors tied the chain and took back the advantage of the home arena. If he got stuck with Greene, the Warriors might be about to fall 3-1.

All of this is a long way of saying it would be great to see what Kerr does as Greene’s minutes move forward. For the series, Green now has a negative on/off difference. Warriors are 1.3 points per 100 possessions when on the field, and 3.4 points per 100 possessions when seated.

To his credit, Green made some nice plays to help the Warriors withdraw, he still has value as a defender and rebel, but he’s almost an imperfect factor on the offensive end now. The Celtics have done a good job shedding a lot of their game, and obviously would prefer not to shoot. He was poor in Game 3, fouled in two games and provided 4.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 30.7% of the field in the series.

Even his mother asks questions:

“Please stop asking me what’s wrong with Dray,” Mary Papers Green wrote on Twitter during Match 4. “I don’t know! Maybe this is a clone! Lmbo where is Draymond who helped us get here!!

While Green won’t fall out of the rotation, it’s fair to wonder how much he’ll play for the rest of the series. Green is one of the strongest and most competitive players of his generation, and has earned an incredible amount of fairness with his teammates and coaching staff.

It wouldn’t be easy to sit with him, even if the team seemed better without him at times. Whether Kerr is able to strike the right balance and get the most out of Green may only determine who will win the championship.

“Look, this is a tough streak for him to score because of the size and sportsmanship of the Boston team, but he still affects the game at a massive level,” Kerr said. “And he knows we’re going to do whatever it takes to win. We have a lot of players who can contribute. A lot of guys did that tonight, you know, we got it done. Whatever it takes in Game 5, that’s what we’re going to do as well.”

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