Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is either practicing some reverse psychology, or he’s genuinely impressed with Jayson Tatum’s play in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Two days after the Celtics’ 107-97 Game 4 loss to the Warriors at TD Garden, in which Tatum hit just 8 of 23 shots for 23 points and committed six turnovers, Green came to the defense of the Boston Celtics star, who is shooting just 34.1 percent from the floor in his first career NBA Finals.
“I mean, it’s tough. You’re experiencing something for the first time,” Green told reporters Sunday.
“I think he’s handled it well. He’s maybe not shot the ball as well as he’d like or everyone else would like, but overall, I think he’s been playing well, and that’s why it’s a 2-2 series coming back for Game 5.”
Tatum has been an inconsistent scorer in this series, going 3 for 17 in a Game 1 win and topping his regular-season scoring average (26.9 points) just once in four games.
He has thrived as a playmaker, leading all players in the Finals with 7.8 assists per game and setting an NBA Finals record with 13 dimes in his Game 1 debut.
“I think he’s handling it all extremely well,” Green said.
“He’s taking what the defense gives him, and that’s what great players do. But I think he’s doing a good job.”
"I think he's handling it all extremely well."
Draymond Green gives respect to Jayson Tatum as he goes through his first NBA Finals experience. pic.twitter.com/eoYnF5ovN9
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) June 12, 2022
However, to Green’s point, Tatum has maintained a steady approach despite his struggles.
Tatum elaborated on his mindset as the series shifts back to the Bay Area for Game 5.
“That’s all I really care about right now is winning,” Tatum said Sunday ahead of Game 5 in San Francisco on Monday night.
“Whether you win or you don’t win, you guys will debate rankings or what does that matter for your legacy and things like that. That’s kind of not up to me.
“In this moment … just trying to do what I can to impact winning by all costs.”
Draymond Green and the Warriors look to go up 3-2 on the young Celtics when they take the floor at Chase Center on Monday night.