Warriors-Celtics trade praise for Draymond Green, Marcus Smart ahead of NBA Finals

In a heavyweight NBA Finals matchup, neither the Warriors nor the Boston Celtics lack star power, with the likes of Stephen Curry and Jayson Tatum being the mainstays.

But both teams also have players who excel at intangibles who make huge shifts off the stat sheet. They need no introduction, but Draymond Green and Marcus Smart will play key roles for their respective teams in the series.

On Wednesday, the day before Game 1, Green and Smart complimented each other. When asked about Smart, Green told reporters he appreciates the Celtics guard’s take on basketball.

“You can see the way he plays, the way he teaches people, the way he gets attention in the crowd, the way he experiences X’s and O’s in the crowd,” Green said. “You saw it all.”

Green might as well have been talking about himself. He added that people tend to forget that Smart’s No. 1 trait out of college was his leadership and ability to be a true point guard.

Smart has also been involved in some controversial moments and games throughout his career — including Curry, who was injured this season. Green blamed Smart’s “bad reputation” early in his career on his growth as a leader.

“I think he continues to grow as his leader,” Green said. “I think early in his career, most people didn’t know what to do with it, so you end up with a bad rap and it’s like, ‘Oh, this guy is doing too much, and he’s doing most of it too … He continues to grow into the leader he has become, and it’s really something to watch.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also made a direct Smart-Green comparison Wednesday. Kerr, who coached Smart as a member of the U.S. national team at the 2019 FIBA ​​World Cup, saw similarities.

RELATED: Why Marcus Smart was key to Celtics winning Banner 18

“He’s just on the defensive end,” Kerr said. “Really, really smart. Looking forward to the drama. Knowing the angles. Versatility on defense 1 to 5. It’s all there. So there’s a reason he won Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a great, great guy. A defender, and possibly an underrated offensive player.”

When told that Kerr compared him to Green, Smart completely agreed.

“It’s a good comparison,” Smart said. “It’s an honor to be compared to someone like Draymond – a champion, a great leader, a great defender. He’s doing a great job. I like to see myself that way. I’ll definitely get it from Draymond Take some notes, the way he leads and the way he plays.”

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