SAN FRANCISCO — The moment Draymond Green checked in to the Golden State Warriors’ 126-112 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday night might have been the best birthday present Stephen Curry could have wished for.
It had been 2½ months since the two shared the floor — and 1,005 days since they played as a trio with Klay Thompson.
Seconds after Green entered the game at the 4:47 mark of the first quarter, Curry called a play that required Green to be the floor general, bringing the ball up the court and directing traffic. The play ended with a Curry wing 3-pointer.
« He threw me right into the fire, » Green told ESPN. « I checked in, and he called a play where I had the ball. And I was very thankful for that because it immediately allowed me to settle down.
« That’s one thing I won’t forget. I may forget a lot of things, but one thing I won’t forget: how to get him the ball. »
With his right-hand man back by his side, Curry finished the night with 47 points on 16-of-25 shooting, including seven 3-pointers — all of which he made with Green on the court. In fact, Curry scored 41 of his points on 13-of-16 shooting when playing next to Green.
« 100 percent, » Warriors coach Steve Kerr said when asked if there was a correlation between Curry’s night and Green’s return.
« It changed for Steph right away, as soon as Draymond got out there, » Kerr continued. « The chessboard changes with Draymond out there. With Steph, everything looks and feels a little bit different. »
Green and Curry’s two-man game has become well-established over the past 10 years. According to Thompson, the combination of Curry’s ability to score from anywhere and Green’s court vision and passing capabilities makes it an unbeatable tandem.
« When I’m not out there and when I’m watching, I see things that can be done that can help him out, » Green said of Curry. « He’s the greatest shooter we’ve ever seen. But you still have to screen, and you still have to find him in good spots and make sure he gets good shots and easy looks as opposed to tough looks all the time. »
With Green playing under a 20 minute restriction, he and Curry shared the court for just 15 minutes against the Wizards. But they made the most out of that limited time, putting up a 169.7 offensive efficiency when playing alongside each other.
In those minutes, Golden State shot 69% from the field, including 9-of-15 from 3, and overall had a plus-23 point differential. When Curry was without Green, the Warriors were outscored by six.
« It’s just chemistry and understanding how to create good looks, especially when I’m coming off the ball or if he’s in the pick-and-roll, » Curry said. « Ten years of that, so it shouldn’t be that surprising. »
Green offered his take.
« Everybody says, ‘Oh, there is no Draymond without Steph.’ That’s 100 percent true, » Green said. « And there’s no Steph without Klay and Draymond. And we are aware of that. And it’s why it’s been such a beautiful brotherhood and partnership over the last 10 years. »
In typical Green fashion, his individual stat line didn’t particularly stand out, as he finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 20 minutes. But he did finish with a team-high plus-24 net rating.
Curry called it a « clinic » in terms of how to impact the game without being one of the players taking all of the shots.
« He’s amazing at reading plays, whether he’s the one playmaking or he’s setting screens, » Curry said of Green. « He knows how to sacrifice his body. He’s been doing it for a very long time, helping me and Klay get open. »
« Gets us open shots, » he said of Green. « Gets us in the rhythm of the offense. Just gets us going. »
This has always been Green’s style. He has often flown under the radar in terms of his importance to the team, at least to the casual viewer. But the past two months highlighted the size of the impact Green has when he’s not out there.
And his showing against the Wizards was an example of what he means to the team when he’s available.