If you had Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni as the first feud of an NBA season that is sure to be full of them, as this petty-fueled league always is, then congratulations, you just won a virtual pat on the back and a good chuckle courtesy of D’Antoni.
It started a couple weeks ago, when D’Antoni offered this take on the Warriors-Rockets rivalry: “You’re not going to stop them. It’s not gonna happen. They’re not gonna stop us either. Should be fun.”
It wasn’t all that incendiary, since Golden State and Houston owned the NBA’s top two offenses last season, respectively, but Green — as he is wont to do — took it as an affront to both his Defensive Player of the Year status and the Warriors’ ranking as the league’s second-best defense in 2016-17.
“I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment,” Green told reporters on Monday, stopping short of piling on D’Antoni, “but I know they definitely added some good defensive players.”
This all seeped into Tuesday night’s season opener between the two teams, and D’Antoni didn’t wait long after his team handed the reigning champions a 123-122 defeat to take one more dig at Green.
Mike D’Antoni jabs at Draymond: “Somebody said we don’t take [defense] seriously. Well, obviously they don’t take it seriously, either.” pic.twitter.com/Pp7eXPJF0V
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 18, 2017
“Somebody said we don’t take defense seriously. Well, obviously they don’t take it seriously either. We scored pretty good,” D’Antoni said with a laugh before returning to coach-speak. “I think both teams take it seriously. We did play well, and it’s a big push for us. We want to be a good defensive team, but when you play against guys like that, you better be able to score the ball. And we were able to do both.”
Of course, D’Antoni’s team benefited from the Warriors failing to finish the game with their top two defensive players. Former first-team All-Defensive selection Andre Iguodala was ruled out before the game with a strained back, and Green suffered a left knee strain in the final seconds of the third quarter. The Warriors led 99-88 at that point, with Green nearing a triple-double through 28 minutes.
Green told ESPN after the game, “I’ll be good. I’m fine,” before adding this caveat: “I hope it’s not a big deal.” He is expected to undergo an MRI on his left knee on Wednesday, per ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Here’s hoping Green is healthy when his Warriors meet the Rockets again in Houston on Jan. 4, because something tells me he won’t let D’Antoni have the last word. Long live NBA feuds.
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