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The latest flare-up came Thursday when Draymond Green wore a T-shirt to the Warriors’ championship parade mocking the Cavs for only going five games with the Warriors in the Finals before succumbing 4-1.
The Warriors and Cavaliers are both undefeated entering the conference finals. They are each four wins away from meeting in the Finals for the third consecutive year. Green’s argument was that there have been no headlines saying how well each team’s rival is playing.
“I’m actually happy we lost today because there’s some things that we need to correct in order to win a championship, and that’s our goal,” he said. “So trying to win every regular-season game really don’t matter. I want to see us get better each and every time we step on the floor, and I don’t feel like that’s been happening for the wholesale nba jerseys things we need to get better at. So I’m kind of thrilled that we lost because you usually make corrections when you lose.”
“That play?” Green said in a chat with ESPN.com, his voice rising. “I don’t regret it. Like, I just don’t. Some would say maybe I’m wrong for not regretting it. I don’t live my life with regrets. I move on. It was never like, ‘Oh man, I cost these guys a championship. Now, do I believe in my heart that I did cost us? Yeah, I do. Absolutely. But I still don’t regret that play.”
The Cavaliers are 8-0 this postseason and have beaten their opponents by an average of 8.3 points. Golden State is 7-0, beating the opposition by an average of 13.7 points.
Green says that even though they’re handling teams with more ease than the Cavaliers, he argues they’re facing stiffer challenges. This isn’t the first time Harden and Green have gotten into it during a game. In the first meeting between the teams, a 132-127 double-overtime win by the Rockets on Dec. 1, Green kicked Harden in the face while attempting a putback. Green was assessed a flagrant foul 1 penalty. Green returned from the suspension in Game 7 and had 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists in the 93-89 loss to the Cavs at home. Had it turned out of differently, Green likely would have been a strong contender for Finals MVP.
”One thing that I pride myself on is leaving it all out there on the floor each and every night,” Green said. “And if it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. And for me, and for this team, it didn’t work out. So, all right, the last two minutes go differently and we win a championship and I’m Finals MVP, great. But it didn’t go that way.
Green also knows he’ll be watched closely in the playoffs after last season, when he was suspended for the pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals because of an accumulation of flagrant-foul points.
Beyond Houston’s early inaccuracy, JaVale McGee helped the Warriors keep things close, as he swatted a season-high five blocks to go along with 13 points in less than 11 minutes. McGee can be a polarizing player. Some love his presence, others caterwaul in opposition to the idea of him as a useful player. The truth is somewhere in between. Some nights, he has it. Others, not so much. He’s the typical heat-check bench scorer, only he happens to be a lanky center.
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The Rockets took a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter, only to suddenly feel the wrath of a defense fully realized. During a 12-0 Golden State run that lasted nearly seven minutes, Houston went 0-of-9 from the field, 0-of-5 from 3 and 0-of-2 from the free throw line, with three turnovers. Keyed by the frenzied activity of Dre and Dray, the Rockets were playing as though the ball were greased, sometimes getting possession as quickly as they lost it.
Iguodala was no less brilliant, finishing with three blocks and a steal in the fourth quarter. He has proved himself quite the Harden-stopper, if there is such a thing. Over the course of this season series, when Iguodala is the primary defender on Harden, The Beard has managed four points on 2-of-10 shooting, with seven turnovers in four games.
By contrast, the 1995-96 Sonics won a franchise-record 64 games. The league was down a little after adding two expansion teams in 1995-96, one reason there were three teams that won 60-plus games, but even after accounting for that I think they were the far better team.
The momentum, though, has been building in Green’s direction throughout a 14-game Golden State winning streak that has included Durant for just one game yet carried the Warriors away from Kawhi’s Spurs to cement the league’s best record for a third successive year.
Green, who played alongside Cousins in the 2016 Olympics, continued, said of Cousins’ manifold skills: “It’s always interesting to watch, interesting to play against, interesting to play with, because he’s so incredibly talented. He’s skilled. He can shoot the 3 now; over the last couple years he added that to his game. Before Monday’s game, Cleveland had taken four consecutive contests from Golden State dating back to the NBA Finals in June. The Warriors had three days off entering the game, while the Cavaliers had practiced only once in 19 days.