The physicality ramped up a notch on Sunday as the Celtics lost Game 2 of the NBA Finals to the Warriors.
The most notable occasion came in the closing moments of the first half. Celtics star Jaylen Brown attempted a 3-pointer that would’ve put his team up 51-50 with 55 seconds left had he made it. But he was fouled by Warriors star forward Draymond Green.
As both players fell to the floor, Green’s legs appeared to hit Brown in the mid-section and near his face. Brown tossed Green’s legs aside and Green pushed Brown in the back. Brown quickly got up and looked down at Green to say something before Jayson Tatum and referee Zach Zarba pulled him back.
Brown shared what he thought of the foul, believing that Green and the Warriors got the benefit of the whistle in Game 2.
“On that situation, Draymond fouled me on a three and put his legs on my head or whatever. I tried to get up,” Brown said. “But that’s what they’re going to do. That’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to try to muck the game up, try to raise the level of intensity. We’ve got to raise ours. I feel like they got away with a lot tonight, but we’ve got to come ready to play, come ready to meet that physicality on both ends.”
The officials reviewed the play for any unsportsmanlike behavior and because Green picked up a technical in the first quarter, a technical foul call there would’ve ejected him from the game.
Brown claimed that he wasn’t trying to bait Green into another technical in that situation, but he did accuse him of making an unsportsmanlike play.
“I’m just trying to play basketball. I feel like that was an illegal play. I feel like they could have called it, but they let it go in terms of a technical either way,” Brown said. “But I don’t know what I was supposed to do there. Somebody got their legs on the top of your head and then he tried to pull my pants down. I don’t know what that was about.
“That’s what Draymond Green does. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. He’ll pull you, he’ll grab you, he’ll try to muck the game up because that’s what he does for their team. It’s nothing to be surprised about. Nothing I’m surprised about. He raised his physicality to try to stop us and we’ve got to raise ours. Looking forward to the challenge.”
Green wasn’t hit with a technical on the play. Following the game, Green gave his take on how officials treat him.
“It’s the NBA Finals. Like I said, I wear my badge of honor,” Green told “SportsCenter.” “It’s not that I’m saying they necessarily treat me different. I’ve earned differential treatment. I enjoy that. I embrace that.”
Brown dealt with some foul trouble himself early on. Late in the first quarter, he picked up his second foul on a questionable call when contesting Gary Payton’s layup.
Brown expressed his frustration with that call, especially as it came during an opening quarter in which he scored 13 points.
“Yeah, I was just being aggressive to start the game, feeling great,” Brown said. “I got a call, I guess in the first half, that put me on the sideline. I don’t feel like I touched Gary Payton and I expressed that, but they called the foul on me. That sat me down. Can’t let that be the reason why in the second half I wasn’t able to be as effective, but definitely changed the game with that phantom call.”
As Brown mentioned, his play cratered after the first quarter. He only made one of the 11 shots he took following that foul, finishing with 17 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
The incident with Green came in the midst of his poor shooting stretch. Brown said that he didn’t let that affect him, though.
“It’s the NBA Finals. You come to play basketball,” Brown said. “I know what Draymond is going to do. I know what he’s going to try to do. They switched the lineup. They tried to put him on me, be physical, muck the game up, pull me, grab me and overall raise the intensity.”
The Warriors evened up the series behind Green’s tone-setting play and a spectacular third quarter, in which they outscored the Celtics 35-14.
As the series heads to Boston for Games 3 and 4, Brown lamented that while he thought the Warriors “got away with a lot of stuff” in Game 2, he’s “looking forward to the challenge of the next game.”
“All that stuff, the gimmicks, the tricks, we’ve just got to be the smarter team, be the more physical team,” Brown said. “Look forward to just coming out and playing Celtic basketball.”