Timberwolves

Draymond Green's Antics Are Beneath the Wolves

Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 to sweep the season series 3-0. “In this league, you have to win the games you’re supposed to win and steal a few that you’re not supposed to win,” Draymond Green said postgame. “But you lose the ones you’re supposed to win, you’re in for a long year.”

Considering the tenth-seeded Warriors were at full strength and playing on the road, it feels far-fetched to think they were supposed to win. Vegas had the Wolves as 2.5-point favorites. Minnesota’s win is another accomplishment and could be its we have arrived moment.

However, Doc Rivers told Bill Simmons in December that he thought Minnesota’s moment occurred after the second game of the series.

Minnesota just beat them, they played a second game, and Golden State thought, ‘OK, let’s show up and be Golden State.’ And it wasn’t working out. Anthony Edwards, he didn’t get the message. He didn’t know he was supposed to lay down for (Green). He was talking crap, the team was playing, and I loved it. I love seeing stuff like that… And it was almost like Minnesota was anointed that night by Golden State and by the reaction by (Green) and their entire team.

The reaction Rivers was talking about? Green’s infamous chokehold on Rudy Gobert.

Minnesota’s sweep of Golden State marks the Wolves’ first series sweep since the 1997-98 season. However, the Timberwolves have taken the season series every year since 2020-21. Still, it never felt like Minnesota and the Warriors had a rivalry because of the drastic differences in the team’s overall records. Since the Warriors drafted Steph Curry in 2009, the Wolves are 17-35 for a 32.69% winning percentage.

But the Wolves have risen to Golden State’s level under Chris Finch. Considering that the Warriors have won four championships since 2009 and have made the playoffs in all but one season, it’s worth noting that the Wolves only had a slight dip in winning percentage against them. They are 467-708, 39.74% since passing on Curry twice in 2009.

The Warriors likely don’t see the Wolves as a rival. Still, Green’s actions suggest otherwise. Green appeared to be extra motivated on defense in Sunday’s game, playing more physically than usual. He even made a couple of threes to start the game. But Naz Reid’s hot shooting fueled the Timberwolves, and their defense held the Warriors to 8.3 points less than their season average. If there wasn’t a rivalry between Golden State and Minnesota, one may have started to bud.

The rivalry may be one reason the Warriors, specifically Green, have been overly critical and dismissive of the Wolves. However, the Wolves could also be starting to stake their claim as a contender while the Warriors are falling out of relevance. Golden State is only 0.5 games ahead of the Houston Rockets for the 10-seed in the West. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are only 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for the 1-seed. The clear change in the two teams’ success may also be fueling the Warriors’ negative comments toward the Wolves.

Green seemed to admit this later in his postgame interview. “If you play against a team that is technically better than you and you have breakdowns, you’re always going to lose,” he said. “That’s why we lose a lot right now.”

Being referred to as technically better may not be the admission Wolves fans hoped Green would make. Still, it goes a long way toward determining Minnesota’s playoff odds if the two teams meet in the first round — if the Warriors get out of the play-in.

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