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Draymond Green is the reason the Warriors haven’t needed Kevin Durant

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With KD sidelined, Draymond is back to being the all-court destroyer that gave the Warriors their edge.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

With Kevin Durant sidelined due to injury, the Warriors are back to the fundamentals of what made them the most revolutionary team of the modern era. The transition has been smoother than anyone could’ve predicted. Golden State is 4-0 in the postseason without KD now, with a win over the Houston Rockets and three over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The biggest reason the change has been so seamless is Draymond Green.

Green was the single biggest driving force for the Warriors, both on paper and as a teammate, in Saturday night’s Game 3 victory over Portland. Golden State had to dig deep like it had in Game 2, down 15 points before the half to comeback and win, 110-99, on the road. Green’s passing, rebounding and defending brought them there. He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists, notching the triple-double in the third quarter. He was everywhere.

Green is back to being one of the most versatile undersized big men in league history. He had a bad regular season, scoring just seven points, seven assists and seven rebounds, and shot the ball so poorly teams began leaving him unguarded from distance. He wasn’t in the running for Defensive Player of the Year either. Skeptics wondered if he was really an All-Star caliber player anymore despite being just 28 years old.

But his incredible playoff run is dispelling all of that nonsense.

Draymond’s signature play over the last month sees him quickly run coast-to-coast by himself after made baskets, often resulting in a semi-contested-at-best layups. It’s genius and shows the speed he’d lacked in the regular season. It notably helped earn a well-needed bucket before the end of the first half, which served as perfect morale boost heading into the break down 13.

But his scoring wasn’t Green’s most important role — his passing was.

“It’s like he’s got eight eyeballs,” Steph Curry said, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “He sees everything.”

Green was Golden State’s true point guard for most of the night, slipping passes through holes in the middle of the floor and creating looks by attacking them himself.

Green’s 12 assists don’t even account for the times he freed Curry with vicious screens. The talent of both made guarding either the three-point line or the roll man impossible, and Portland’s pick-your-poison defense came up poison all night. Curry went off for 36 points on 26 shots.

Green is known for his combative, energetic personality that rubs some people (refs, opponents, and occasionally teammates and coaches) the wrong way, but he had a dramatically different moment during the team’s comeback chase in the third quarter. It came after he had pinpointed the perfect lead pass for Jordan Bell to cut the lead to six points, only for Bell to rim out a dunk in embarrassing fashion.

Seemed like the time for a roar from Green. Instead, Green did this. (We’ve come a long way from him calling KD, uhh, you know.)

“Did he miss a shot tonight?” Green said to Bell. “Did he? Did he? I did and he did, too. It’s ok, keep it moving. It’s ok. You missed a shot. All of us have. Nobody’s perfect.”

Draymond Green was the perfect basketball player in Game 3, both in action and during pauses. With two All-Stars in KD and DeMarcus Cousins out, his individual importance has risen exponentially, and so far, he’s re-entered the role well. He my have been the forgotten man this season, but with the spotlight on him, he’s risen to the occasion. Golden State wouldn’t be sailing with a 3-0 lead without him.