Warriors star Draymond Green has been to the Finals 6 times over his NBA career. 4 of those occasions had him pinned up against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to Draymond, those series against James count as some of the hardest challenges he has ever faced. On a recent chat with JJ Redick on 'The Old Man & The Three', he even explained how going against a LeBron team in the playoffs is a level above going against a team like the Celtics.
"It’s easier because we’re not playing LeBron James,” Green said when asked if it was easier against the Celtics. “They asked me a question in a press conference like ‘How does the IQs rank against Boston versus LeBron' and it’s like shut up. What are we talking about? It’s easier when you’re not playing LeBron James, who is the ultimate mastermind in our game. So you’re not playing that chess match with him. It’s a lot easier to play a chess match against anybody else, but against LeBron, it’s different.
"And Bron can prepare his guys for what’s to come. Al Horford couldn’t prepare them for what’s to come, so you know that going in, no disrespect to Al Horford."
The thing about LeBron James is that there isn't anything the guy has not done or accomplished on the basketball court. He has seen it all and knows what it takes to overcome anything (or any team) that gets in his way.
The 2022 Celtics were a worthy challenger, but it's a lot harder to succeed in the Finals when you've never been there before:
"They didn’t know what to expect, and going into that, being in the finals five times, you understand what to do with your family. You understand what to do with your friends. You understand all these things. I put my kids on a totally different floor of the hotel because you need to stay locked into that moment. And so I knew that they weren’t truly ready and prepared for that moment.”
It's hard to say if the Celtics will ever get another chance. On one hand, the East is brutal and isn't going to get any easier. Making the Finals does not guarantee you'll return anytime soon.
On the other hand, the Celtics are still young and extremely talented. They also got to experience the game at the highest level of competition. They now know what it's like to play with all the stakes on the line and are better equipped to handle it moving forward.
We will see soon enough if the Cs have what it takes to finish the job next time.