CLEVELAND — A remorseful Draymond Green called himself a “terrible teammate” and said he owes it to the Warriors to play hard but smart in Game 6 to help them secure their second straight NBA championship.
The Warriors wasted a chance to pop the Champagne at home Monday, losing by 15 points in Game 5 with Green suspended after an altercation with LeBron James late in Game 4. Back and ready to atone in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday, Green envisions the Warriors celebrating and hoisting another championship on the Cavaliers’ home floor — again.
“I let my teammates down,” Green said Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena. “I owe it to my teammates to come back and give all that I have, do all that I can do. I have strong belief that if I played Game 5 we win, but I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play.
“It’s on me to come out and help that battle. Not come out and try to be the superstar, try to be the hero, try to be the saving grace because being a superstar or saving grace hasn’t gotten us this far. Being a great team is what got us this far. So to come back and be a piece of that great team is what I owe this team.
“We got a Game 6 to win. That’s our focus: Come in this building, win another championship. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible. We look forward to doing it.”
The Warriors, who clinched last year’s championship in Cleveland, got their heart-and-soul back. But they lost starting center Andrew Bogut. He suffered bone bruises in his left knee in Game 5 and is out six to eight weeks.
Golden State likely will go small a lot with Green at center, which is when the Warriors are at their best.
Green is a very good playmaker and can guard multiple players, including James. The most important thing for the Warriors is that the versatile All-Star doesn’t lose his cool.
“He won’t get baited into any kind of altercations,” Stephen Curry said.
A popular opinion is that James purposely provoked the emotional Green in Game 4. James knocked down Green, and then stepped over him. Green hit James in the groin on his way to his feet. Upon league review, Green received a Flagrant Foul 1. It gave him four flagrant foul points this postseason, resulting in a one-game suspension.
Green, who watched Game 5 from a suite next door at the A’s game, wouldn’t discuss whether he believed he should be suspended. He said he never should have put himself and his team in jeopardy.
“I have to be better and not put myself in a position to where it is a decision, where there is an investigation,” Green said. “I put myself in a position where I couldn’t be out there. The way I view it, it’s awful, terrible teammate, and I take pride at being better.”
Green already addressed his teammates, who struggled without him on both ends of the floor. James and Kyrie Irving each scored 41 points and Golden State scored one point over the final 7:09.
James said Green’s return doesn’t affect his or the Cavaliers’ approach. They’re trying to become the first team in Finals history to win it all after trailing 3-1, and are confident they can send the series back to the Bay Area for a deciding game.
“My only job is to get this win, man,” James said. “We have a great opportunity to protect home court and go into two of the best words ever, and that’s ‘Game 7.’ Hopefully we can protect home. That’s all that matters.”
Green couldn’t be baited into saying anything about James.
“He’s a great player,” Green said.
He also said he has to put the team before himself and won’t be baited into doing anything.
“I just have to make sure that I’m well composed,” Green said. “That I control my emotions and channel that energy and use it in a positive way to help my team and not in a way where it helps me as a man and hurts my teammates.
“We got an opportunity to win a championship on someone else’s court two years in a row. Cleveland is a very good team. They had some guys find their stride in Game 5. We look to come out and stop that stride and try to get a win on their court in Game 6.”