The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs played a thrilling game on Monday night that came down to the final possession. Golden State was inbounding the ball from halfcourt down three with 8.7 seconds left. Everyone in the building thought Stephen Curry was getting the ball.
Golden State did intend to throw the inbounds pass to Curry, but he couldn’t shake free from Spurs defender Dejounte Murray. Instead, Damion Lee saw Draymond Green call for the ball and threw a cross court pass to him. Green caught the ball between the halfcourt line and the three-point arc. He could have tried to find Curry or create a scoring chance out of a drive-and-kick, but instead Green did something very curious: he shot the ball has soon as he got it.
The deep three missed badly. Spurs win, 105-100. Immediately, all of Twitter was asking the same question: what the heck was Draymond thinking?
Green is widely and rightfully considered the smartest player of his generation. He gave an epic press conference a month ago where he confirmed as much, calling out anyone who analyzes the game but doesn’t know what they’re watching. Why did a basketball genius take what was credited as a 31-foot jump shot with plenty of time on the clock when he’s teammates with the greatest shooter in league history?
Draymond had a plan, of course. It just didn’t work out. Green thought he was going to be fouled by San Antonio’s Derrick White as soon as he caught the ball so the Spurs could prevent Golden State from getting off a game-tying look from three. He took the shot so he could get three free throws out of it when White came over to foul him.
Only one problem: White never fouled him and Green — who processes the game of basketball at a higher level than anyone alive — just made a play that he described as “dumb as hell.”
Here’s what Green said about the shot after the game, calling his three-pointer “the smartest dumb play in history.”
Steve Kerr deflected the blame after the game, saying he should have told his team the Spurs rarely foul when up three late in games.
“Spurs generally do not foul in those situations,” Kerr told reporters on a Zoom conference call after the game. ”It’s probably my fault for not informing the team that the Spurs usually don’t foul. But we knew we had 8.7 to drive and kick, plenty of options with that kind of time. And so we were just trying to spread the floor and get a good look.”
It’s too bad that Curry couldn’t get the ball, because he was sensational for most of the game. Two nights after dropping a 57-point performance against Dallas, Curry immediately created another viral highlight in the first quarter against San Antonio with an absolutely dirty side-step three off the dribble from a mile away. He was feeling it in the fourth quarter too, scoring 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting and again doing his best work while retreating.
Curry ended this game with 32 points on 6-of-11 shooting from three. Too bad he couldn’t get one more attempt to tie the game.
The Warriors fell to 12-12 on the season with the loss. Right now, Golden State is as average as average gets:
The Warriors have a 12-12 record. They’ve scored 2,734 points and given up 2,732 points. They haven’t won or lost more than two in a row. They are about as .500 as an average team can get right now.
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 9, 2021
Green was otherwise awesome in this game, finishing three points shy of a triple-double. You can bet the league’s smartest player isn’t going to make himself look that foolish again.