Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green says that he is not motivated by the NBA’s new play-in games, despite the fact that his team currently sits in 9th place in the Western Conference — squarely on the fringe of the league’s reformatted playoff system.
“To be honest with you I don’t go into these games thinking like, ‘Man, we need to win these games to get to the playoffs,'” Green said after Thursday’s 116-109 loss to the Miami Heat. “I hate f—— losing so when I step on the floor I want to win. But I’ll be 100 percent honest with you, fighting for a play-in spot does not motivate me. We’re in what, [9th]? Fighting for a play-[in] spot doesn’t motivate me at all.”
Green, who has won three NBA championships during his nine-year career with the Warriors, added that the idea of squeezing into the postseason isn’t going to motivate him any more than not wanting to lose already does.
“I want to win every game I play because I hate losing,” he said. “That s— really bothers me. So that’s what motivates me, not fighting for some play-in spot.”
After the interest in last season’s Western Conference play-in game in the bubble, the NBA changed its playoff format prior to this season to allow more teams the opportunity to qualify for the postseason. The seventh-seeded teams in both conferences play the 10th seeded team and the eighth-seeded team plays the ninth-seeded team in a pre-playoff bracket.
The higher seed team must win two games in a row to make the playoffs, while the lower-seeded team only needs to win one game. If the playoffs started Friday, the Warriors would square off against the San Antonio Spurs — but Green isn’t concerned about that as his team continues to find a consistent rhythm that has eluded them all season.
Green was asked if his feelings about the play-in game would change in a few weeks if it were the only option the organization had to get into the postseason.
“No, it still won’t motivate me,” Green said. “I step on the court and I’m going to give 110 percent whether it’s the play-in game or not. But, no play-in game is going to motivate me at this point in my career. That’s just kind of what it is. Playoff basketball is definitely motivating, but a play-in game don’t motivate me. And that won’t change today, tomorrow, in a month or two months or two years from now.
“I want to win. That’s enough motivation for me, but I’m not going to spend every day like, ‘Man, we’re right on the cusp of that play-in’ — I don’t give a damn about that play-in game. If that’s where we are and we’re in the game, yeah, I’m going to do all I can to win the game. But, the play-in situation isn’t going to get me out of my bed like I got to bust my ass today because we’re fighting for the play-in spot. That ain’t going to push me.”
What is motivating Green is seeing teammate Stephen Curry continue to play through pain to try and help his teammates. Curry, who scored 36 points in Thursday’s loss, is still dealing with the lingering effects of a painful tailbone bruise suffered during a fall on March 17 in a win over the Houston Rockets. Curry said he would have to see how he felt after waking up on Friday before making a decision as to whether he would play against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa.
“I gotta see how I feel when I wake up,” Curry said. “This is an injury where — Monday to Tuesday it was a tough day after game feeling. I’m hopefully progressing where I wake up and feel good and know what I’m dealing with and be able to play, but we’ll monitor that.”