Golden State Warriors starting forward Draymond Green won’t be stuck watching game five of the NBA Finals from the stadium next door this year.
The outspoken 27-year-old will try to help the Warriors, who lead this year’s best-of-seven series 3-1, defeat the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday in Oakland to capture the crown.
Last year, the Warriors also led 3-1 but Green was banned from the pivotal matchup after striking Cleveland star LeBron James in the groin in game four.
The visiting Cavaliers won game five with Green watching on TV from a luxury box in the baseball stadium beside the arena, awaiting a celebration that would never come. Cleveland won games six and seven to cap the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history and dethrone the Warriors.
A mellower Green has learned the lessons from that frustration and while not above chatting to a referee, was whistled for fewer flagrant fouls this season.
“I don’t really carry it with me. I’m a firm believer in (stuff) happens,” Green said. “I carried the lessons that I learned with me. It has put me in the position I am today. I feel better than I’ve ever felt emotionally. Just having my emotions in place than I’ve ever felt.
“So it’s all things that happen bad aren’t that bad, when you take a step back and look at them. It’s something that I learned from and will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
And having a game five at home opens a chance at redemption and securing a crown with his work on the court.
“We have a golden opportunity going home on Monday to close this thing out,” Green said. “I’ve won one on the road. I want to see how it feels to win at home. We have to come out with some fire and try it get done.
“Thank God I get to play in game five.”
Green did get whistled for a technical foul in game four Friday for a flailing arm, what was momentarily thought to be an ejecting offense as a second technical. But the scorer recorded a technical foul on Warriors coach Steve Kerr as on Green so when it was discovered, Green was allowed to stay.
– ‘Can’t fool me twice’ –
Such moments bring questions about Green’s mental improvement, ones Green shrugged off earlier in the series.
“You act like I’m just this troubled guy who’s been in a bunch of trouble and can’t control myself,” Green said.
“I’ve just been playing basketball. And when you’ve got great teammates like I do who allow me to play with my emotions and be emotional when I’m talking to them, to use my emotions to the better for us, it’s easy.
“Not worrying about the officials and all that. I think everyone talks to officials. I talk to them. But going over the edge isn’t going to win me a championship. I think I’m a pretty smart guy and I learned my lesson. So I went over the edge before — fool me once, you can’t fool me twice.”
Green had 16 points and 14 rebounds in a losing cause in game four, when play became more physcial than it had been in the series.
“We’ll bounce back,” Green said. “We never felt like we were out of the game. We continued to push. We were right there. A couple of shots drop, maybe the game turns. We’ll be fine.”
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