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Outmatched and Outgunned: “Playoff Draymond” Wins Over Meyers Leonard

Paolo Uggetti of the Ringer discusses how Portland’s beat-up backcourt and a frontcourt adjustment cannot keep up with an active Draymond Green and a deep Warriors roster.

Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Paolo Uggetti of the Ringer argues that Draymond Green playing with energy outmatched anything the Trail Blazers could do in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between a beat-up Damian Lillard and starting Meyers Leonard in place of Enes Kanter. Uggetti introduces the concept of “Playoff Draymond Green,” noting that the Warriors’ big man sliced and diced the Blazers on the back of a triple-double. Green’s performance marks an incredible turnaround for a player who seemed disengaged earlier in the season.

Three quarters into the game, he had recorded an 18-11-11 triple double and added a steal and three blocks (he finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, and four steals). Green probably couldn’t outrun most of the players on the court on Saturday in a 100-meter dash, but within the specific dimensions of an NBA court, and the specific framework of the game, he can be the quickest player.

By comparison, the losers identified by Uggetti are Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Stotts’ adjustment to start Meyers Leonard over Enes Kanter.

Game 3 was proof of how overmatched and, frankly, tired Lillard and Co. look. It appears that Lillard is also hurt. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported postgame that Lillard suffered a separated rib in Game 2 that he played through Saturday night. When the Blazers were overrun by Golden State’s 29-13 third quarter, desperation kicked in, but Lillard’s legs weren’t helping.

As to the adjustment of using Leonard over Kanter, Uggetti notes that it benefited the Blazers in the first half, but it seems to be a consistent problem of not having the right personnel to match up with what the Warriors are able to do on the court.

Stotts, to be fair, has been trying to fit a round peg into a square hole all series. He doesn’t have the talent or versatility to keep up with Golden State and whatever big he tries to deploy either gets into foul trouble (Zach Collins, who was a minus-8 in 20 minutes), is terrible defensively (Kanter, who played seven minutes), or, like Leonard (minus-17 in 31 minutes), doesn’t have enough firepower to keep up. And if they go small at center, well, good luck getting any rebounds. Maybe there is no answer, no combination or rotation that can keep Portland in this series. So far it certainly looks that way.

While the Blazers seem to be challenged by the Warriors’ now 12-man rotation, they will get another chance to prove themselves on Monday evening.

You can read the entire piece here.