BOSTON—Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka has urged his team to fight fire with fire as they prepare for the physical challenge of the Golden State Warriors in game three of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors outmuscled the Celtics in their series-levelling game two win on Sunday, with Golden State enforcer Draymond Green leading a superb defensive performance that shut down Boston’s scoring threat.
Green was a thorn in the side of the Celtics line-up throughout the win, sparring both physically and verbally with Boston’s players incessantly.
Udoka says he has given his players no special instructions in how to deal with Green other than to “be who you are”.
“If you want to ignore it, ignore it,” Udoka said on Tuesday. “If you engage, engage. Do what you do. Be who you are.
“The main thing is to continue to stay composed. With us, I don’t think it’s the talking as much as the physicality that they brought … We know obviously that’s what Green does. Kind of bleeds over into the team.”
Udoka said he if he had been suiting up in this year’s finals as a player “I would probably get a double technical immediately”.
“But that’s not everybody,” Udoka said. “Do what you do. Block it out or meet physicality with physicality.”
Udoka is also only too aware of Green’s importance to the Warriors as a rallying point when the team needs lifting.
“When their team is struggling, he sets the tone for them. That’s one of the ways he does it. But we embrace that,” Udoka said.
“One of the best defensive teams, we like to impose our will, as well. I have to meet that with the same thing.”
Celtics ace Jaylen Brown was involved in a flashpoint with Green in game two after being fouled by the Warriors star on a three-point attempt. The two ended up in a shoving match after tangling on the floor, and Brown later accused Green of trying to yank his shorts down.
Brown said Tuesday he planned to ignore any needling by Green in game three.
“We ain’t got time for that. Just come out and play basketball, let everything else take care of itself,” Brown said.
“I’m going to come out, do my job. We’re here to play basketball, so don’t get caught up in all the antics and stuff like that.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr meanwhile said he had no plans to ask Green to temper his physical approach.
“No, just let him be him,” Kerr said. “He’s at his best when he’s passionate and emotional.
“I thought he played a great game the other night. The play is always going to be physical in the playoffs. Being physical is part of it.
“The main thing is you have to leave the officials alone, and Draymond did a good job of that.”