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Draymond Green playoffs diary, Part 16

‘Next game will be the hardest game of our lives.’

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 No. 16

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-101 in Game 6 on Saturday night in Oklahoma City during the Western Conference finals. The winner of a deciding Game 7 on Monday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, will play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Green had 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three steals in 42 minutes. The Warriors’ backcourt of Klay Thompson (41 points, an NBA playoff record of 11 3-pointers made) and Stephen Curry (29 points, six 3-pointers made, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals) sparked the reigning NBA champions to victory.

This was a huge win to stay alive and keep our championship hopes alive. It was a huge game. But next game will be the hardest game of our lives. If we thought this one was hard, next game will be even harder. So we got to come with the same mentality to fight from the beginning.

“It’s Game 7. Game 7s are tough regardless. Both teams are going to leave everything out there on the floor. I don’t think a home crowd gives you the advantage. It’s Game 7. You got to go out there and give it all you got. This [Thunder] team is not going to quit. They’re a very good ball club. A ball club that fights. They’re never going to quit and that is going to make it tough. But if we stay the course, we be who we are, everything else will take care of itself.

“Everybody was loose tonight. Same as always. That’s what we say to ourselves, ‘No matter what we are going to stay true to who we are.’ The bus ride was loose, fine. Everyone was chilling as always. We always stick together. We don’t turn on each other. We enjoy our time together.

“When we do that, everything else takes care of itself. That’s who we’ve been. We always pride ourselves on not being frontrunners. To change it now would be acting like a frontrunner. So we just stay the course.

“The difference in the last two games has been our effort, our mentality. We just fight. The way things were going in part of the first quarter and the second quarter, we could’ve been down 25 points at halftime. But we battled and we defended. We competed. That was the most important thing even when shots weren’t falling there. We competed. We continued to battle. And that’s what allowed us to stay in the game and be down five at halftime and have a chance to win this game.

“Klay and Steph were huge. When shots weren’t falling, Klay started picking us up and started knocking down shots. Steph was great. He defended. He knocked shots down when we needed him to knock shots down most and he took care of the ball. In key moments, that is what you have to do in order to have a chance to win. He did it. He had huge rebounds. He had 10 rebounds and that is huge against a team like this where we are battling with their big guys and sometimes can’t come up with it.”

The Warriors are 2-0 in the Western Conference finals with Green’s former Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in attendance.

“[Izzo] told me to, ‘Be me.’ He told me to be the guy I’ve always been. He said, ‘I’m happy to see you. I’m happy we can make it down and go out there and give me a f—ing win.’

“This crowd is good. They rallied around their guys like they’re supposed to and I’ve had two awful games here. I wanted to deliver for my team with the last chance I had [here this season]. It’s one of the best feelings to hush their crowd. Every time I walked past them they were booing the hell out of me. Then I’m walking past after the win and they’re not even looking at me anymore.

“One of the best feelings in sports that you can ever have is to go in another team’s court and win. It doesn’t get any better than that, especially in a situation like this.

“You enjoy the [Game 6] win now, but it’s over. We are giving ourselves the chance we wanted to give ourselves. Now we have to take advantage and focus on it. Oracle will be crazy Monday. I’m looking forward to getting back in front of the home crowd. They definitely gave us a boost in Game 5 and hopefully they can give us a boost in Game 7. I think it will be a very crazy environment. I’m looking forward to it.

“Cleveland right now does not matter to us at all. We have OKC in a Game 7. It will be one of the hardest games we ever played in. This [Thunder] team is going to be ready to go. This is not a team that quits saying, ‘Oh, we lost Game 6, we had a 3-1 lead and now we’re tied up.’ This is not that team. They’re going to come out battling and we have to focus on that. [The Cavs] can do what they do. We don’t have anything to do with them right now. We have to focus on trying to win Game 7.”

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.