TORONTO — Draymond Green is used to being the villain, the target of opposing fans and, in this case, celebrity fans. As he left the court at Scotiabank Arena at the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night, he was pelted with insults from rapper/super Raptors fan Drake.
With the two-time defending champion Warriors facing a Raptors franchise making its Finals debut, Green and the Warriors find themselves as the powerhouse with an entire nation rooting against them. Actually, Green figures it’s two nations, after a gambling site announced earlier in the week that all but three states in the U.S. were rooting for the Raptors.
“Yeah, that's cool,” Green said Friday afternoon, a day after the Raptors captured Game 1 of the series. “People in the States are rooting against us because we beat all their teams. So it's all good. When you're at the top, no one's ever cheering for you to stay there. People want to see you get to the top and they want to see you fall. That's just kind of the mind of the most human beings. So it's all good, but yeah. Their team is sitting at home with them.”
Green said that the Warriors don’t need it as motivation though, not with the experience of four straight trips to the Finals to go along with a roster stocked with talent. Even without Kevin Durant, who sat out the entire Western Conference Finals with a strained calf and was declared out for Game 2, Green is confident that the Warriors know what it takes to win and have all that they need.
“No, we don't need that,” he said. “We're trying to win a championship. We know what it takes to win a championship. So we don't need to reach for extra motivation. If winning a championship isn't enough motivation for you, then you got other issues.”
The Warriors find themselves fighting from behind, the first time in their five straight Finals appearances that they have lost the first game. But as you might expect for a team that has overcome deficits in playoff series during their run together they have little doubt in their ability to recover.
“You never lose that experience,” Green said. “You can always look back on it and it's more about how you felt, what was your mindset then. But it's impossible to be the same because it's completely different teams. And although some of us may have that experience, others on our team have not had that experience.
“So you can always look back and kind of recall those feelings that you had, but it's a different situation. Each series presents its challenges, as this one does, and it's on us to figure those challenges out and then do what we need to do to exceed those.”
“The experience helps,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Winning multiple championships helps because you have seen it all. There's also just the knowledge that you've been here before. You've been down. We have been up 3-1 and lost a series. We have been down 3-1 and won a series. Everything in between. So nothing is going to catch these guys off guard, and they are very accustomed to the rhythm and tone of a seven-game series and how long it takes, how many twists and turns there are. And you know that as soon as you lose a game, it will be on the crawl that now we only have a 19.7 percent chance of winning the series. Then if we win tomorrow we'll have a 42.7 chance of not losing the series."
Kerr added: "You lose a game, you come back and you try to win. And the team we're playing knows that better than anybody. They were down 2-0 and came back and won four straight [in the Eastern Conference Finals]. So these things change quickly, but you have to be prepared for everything. You have to learn from your mistakes. You have to keep fighting. It's actually pretty simple. The execution of it is not simple, but when you watch it on tape, OK, this is what we have to do, and then are we good enough to do it? That's what make it fun. You get to test yourself.”