CLEVELAND — LeBron James was able to get comfortable and had his best game of the Finals in Game 5. Kyrie Irving was able to get to the rim and finish, and he had the best game of his career in Game 5. The Cavaliers won and stayed alive, forcing a Game 6 back in Cleveland.
Daymond Green blames himself.
“I let my teammates down not being in the game, regardless of whether I want to say, “Oh, man, it wasn’t that much,” or whether someone else wants to have an opinion and say, “Oh, it wasn’t that much” [or] “I shouldn’t have been suspended…” Green said Wednesday before practice. “At this point it doesn’t matter anymore, we lost Game 5 and we’re here for Game 6 and I have to be better and not put myself in a position, to where it isn’t a decision, and there isn’t an investigation….
“I have a strong belief that if I play Game 5 we win. But I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play, and I thought my teammates fought, didn’t play well and with six minutes to go still down just six points. They continued to battle and battle, now it’s on me to come out and help that battle.”
Green was suspended for an accumulation of flagrant fouls. He can argue (and lose) the one about catching LeBron James down low, but he also picked up one for body slamming Michael Beasley with one second to go in a game in the first round, and that lapse of judgment was part of the reason he sat.
After being assessed an after-the-fact Flagrant 2 foul for his kick to the groin of Steven Adams in the last series, Green played a tentative Game 4 and was not nearly as effective. He said he has to be himself but be smarter walking the line and not stepping over it Thursday.
“I think I’ve got to come out and play my game regardless,” Green said. “But there are those little fine lines where you just know you can’t cross them. It’s not every play that you’re close to that line. It’s a basketball game, so there are only certain plays where you are. I just have to make sure that I’m well composed when those situations come about, that I control my emotions, that I channel that energy and use it in a positive way to help my team and not in a way to where I may feel like it helps me as a person, me as a man, but hurts my teammates. That’s irrelevant.
“He knows that if he gets another flagrant he misses Game 7,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s well aware of that. I’d be shocked if anything happened on that front. I think he feels bad enough as it is about missing Game 5. He’s not going to put himself at risk of missing another game.”
In a surprise to absolutely nobody, Green is confident this will be the final game of the series.
“We know the formula,” Green said. “We know the blueprint. We know that it’s not easy, though. In order to do it, you have to be locked in from the jump, and I think guys understand that. I have no doubt in my mind guys will be ready to do that.”
To a man the Cavaliers said having Green back doesn’t change their situation.
“We know that’s their money line-up, when they play small with Draymond at the five,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s not really a big difference of preparing for that.”
“I think they’re pretty confident in what their game plan is,” Richard Jefferson said. “Their game plan got them up 3-1. We were able to come out, obviously, when they’re down a guy. We were able to come back and get a victory there. But I think they’re still pretty confident. I’d much rather be in their position than in our position, so I don’t think that they’re going to change their game plan.”
The bigger difference will be no Andrew Bogut, who is out with a bone bruise in his knee.
“It’s bad news for our team,” Kerr said. “Boges has made an impact in this series first couple of games. I thought he was really impactful. Last two we played him fewer minutes, but still he’s a defensive presence at the rim and rebounder, and a great passer. So we’ll miss the minutes that he’s been giving us.”
“It’s tough not to have Bougs out there,” Green said. “He anchors our defense a lot of the time. Very smart, very good passer on offense, great facilitator. So I mean, it’s not like a loss where you say, ‘oh, it doesn’t matter.’ It definitely matters.”