OAKLAND, Calif. – Stunningly, Draymond Green kept his mouth shut on the court for a full practice Saturday.
Golden State’s outspoken swingman is striving to cut down on his arguing and technical fouls for the rest of the postseason – which could be as challenging a task in the Western Conference finals as slowing down the explosive Thunder tandem of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“It was a quiet practice,” forward Harrison Barnes said with a big grin and chuckle as the defending champion Warriors prepared Game 1 on Monday night at Oracle Arena.
Green has four technicals so far, and seven would land him an automatic one-game suspension. He will give himself “a little wiggle room” to get one more.
“I’m not contesting any calls,” he said. “No. Because if I contest a call, no matter how my approach is going to go then, it’s going to change. I know me. I’m going to walk the other way and if they call a foul, `Good call.’ I’m not talking, nope.”
Also Saturday, 7-foot center Andrew Bogut didn’t practice for the second straight day because of a strained muscle in his right leg between the groin and hamstring that he hurt in Wednesday’s second-round series clincher against the Portland Trail Blazers. Coach Steve Kerr still hoped Bogut would practice Sunday, but the backup plan will be to move Festus Ezeli into the starting lineup for Monday if need be. Bogut did some post work and shooting.
Golden State’s scrimmage Saturday was officiated by coaches Jarron Collins and Chris DeMarco, and even with all the bad calls, according to Barnes, Green bit his lip.
“They were calling terrible calls. I said: `You know what? I’m not talking to y’all. I’m going to keep my cool, not talking to the referees. Just play basketball.’ I was good today,” Green said. “I’ve got to practice it now, though. It’s habit. I’m working on it. That’s something I have to focus on, and I haven’t focused on it at all in this playoffs. But I’m focused on it now. Usually when I focus in on something, I can do pretty well at it, and I’m stubborn enough to do well at it because I have to prove to myself that I can do it. And I always want to prove whoever I’m trying to prove wrong, and in this case it’s myself. I think I’m going to do a really good job with it.”
Reports are that the referees were so poor in fact – “It was 8-on-5, they were awful. They can’t fine me,” Barnes said – it would have been easy for Green to go off.
Barnes appreciates Green taking his mouth to heart, given the defending champion Warriors realize every possession is going to matter against Oklahoma City and mental mistakes could prove costly.
“There were a few calls he kind of just looked at the ref and his usual self would have said something. He just kind of turned around and looked around, just diffused the tension,” Barnes said. “You’ve got to give him credit. He’s really being serious about this. He did a great job today and hopefully he can just continue to build that tomorrow. Just take it day by day. Today was a great day. If we can just build and continue to go from there, we’ll be just fine.”
Barnes is ready to have Green’s back, too.
“I have a few technicals in my bag, if need be,” he said. “The biggest thing is we’re going to need all hands on deck for these games and to lose somebody for a technical foul or guys getting ejected or anything like that, we’ve got to be smart and keep our poise.”
Kerr loves Green’s impromptu spirit and emotion, but also wants his star player to keep it all in check.
Green insists he didn’t argue at all Saturday.
“Not once,” he said. “I laughed at them. I said, `You’re trying to get me, I’m not talking to you today.’ … It’s definitely something I’ve got to do because I can’t get suspended. That’s bad. I’m locked in on it now. It’s a game within the game for me. I’m excited about it.”