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Draymond Green Finals diary, Part 18

‘We got to make sure we stay on edge and know it’s just one game.’

Draymond Green has evolved into one of the most interesting personalities in the NBA, and perhaps all of sports — the vocal leader and emotional engine for one of the most compelling NBA teams in recent memory.

Green has agreed to give The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears an exclusive look into his life on and off the court, via a playoff diary that Green hopes will end with a second straight NBA championship for the Golden State Warriors.

Draymond Green Diary #18

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Green had 16 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 40 minutes and earned his eighth double-double of the postseason. The Warriors’ All-Star starting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for just 20 points, but Golden State’s bench outscored the Cleveland’s bench 45-10. Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 26 points for Cleveland while LeBron James scored 23. The NBA Finals continue with Game 2 in Oakland on Sunday.

I wasn’t as jittery as I was last year. Last year it was like, ‘Oh my God, we’re in the NBA Finals.’ You didn’t know what to expect. This year it’s like, ‘Were here. I know what to expect.’ Everything felt more normal. Obviously, it’s the Finals. The emotions are higher. But it felt like you were driving to a normal playoff game this time.

“That’s kind of the feel you’re looking for. You don’t want to have those jitters you have the first time. Although, the excitement is still the same. You don’t make it to the Finals all the time. You got to enjoy it and appreciate it. I know I did and I think everyone else [on the Warriors] did as well.

“Great defensive effort. We really took some of the things away that we wanted to take away, but we can also be a lot better. We lost shooters, including myself a few times. We kept the turnovers down, which is important. Me and Steph can do a better job. We’ve been even better.

“Most importantly, everybody stepped up. Everybody had a hand in it. That’s the one thing we always talk about is our depth. Tonight was huge, huge. We always talk about keeping our turnovers down and defending. If we do that, we always give ourselves a chance to win … The starting five can’t get it done every night. But when we don’t, the other guys step up.

“It was good to see Shaun [Livingston] have a great night. Especially after he struggled a bit in the OKC series. I struggled as well. To see him come out and get going like that tonight, we really needed it. It was big. Hopefully, he will keep it going the rest of the series. I have no doubt he will.

“It’s incredible the resolve that he has. That is why you can see him bouncing back like that in a game of this magnitude.

“When you’re in the playoffs, nobody will ever remember how you lost a game, how you won a game, how you lost a series or how you won a series. They remember whether you won or lost the series. This is one game. We started off last year [in the Finals] 1-0. We dropped the next two.

“So, we got to make sure we stay on edge and know it’s just one game. We got to defend our home court the other night on Tuesday. What’s the day? Sunday. I don’t know the days. Every day is the same to me.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.