Around this time last year, the Golden State Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks were the toasts of their respective conferences — traditionally downtrodden franchises reaching heights not seen in decades, if ever, and playing beautiful, team-oriented basketball while they did it. Their two regular season matchups last season were some of the most hotly anticipated games in 2014-15, but what a difference a year makes. While Golden State has somehow reached another level from the 67-win champion of a year ago, the Hawks have slid back into the low-playoff-seed anonymity that has largely defined them for years.
But the gulf that now exists between the two teams shrinks considerably without the presence of the reigning MVP. Stephen Curry was out with a minor ankle injury, and the Hawks saw it as a chance to pounce. They played a tough, tight game that went into overtime before Steph miraculously re-entered the game — after inhabiting the body of Draymond Green for a moment. How else to explain the eerily Steph-like, off-balance three that Day-Day hit with under a minute left in overtime to seal the Dubs’ win? That’s not the kind of shot that mortals make; it’s the kind that Steph makes.
Of course, Draymond can do incredible things without being possessed, like this unbelievable steal in the fourth quarter:
That impossible level of situational awareness is the kind of superhuman that Green has proven to be. That, plus his umpteenth near-triple-double, is the reason why he’ll probably pick up some down-ballot MVP votes when all is said and done. Even without Steph and against a Hawks team filled with pride, veterans, and the belief that they could take Golden State with the MVP out, Draymond (and Andrew Bogut, who scored 19 points on 8-9 shooting) held the line, earning the highest (and funniest) of praise from his coach: