Draymond Green Says Warriors Knew Everything LeBron James and the Cavaliers Were Going to Do During Epic NBA Finals Matchups: ‘There Was No Surprises’

LeBron James isn’t just an elite athlete. He also has one of the greatest basketball minds of his generation. James can recall a sequence that happened in the first quarter during a post-game press conference and not make any mistakes. He has even told opposing players what to do for specific plays.

However, LeBron isn’t the only basketball genius in the NBA today.

James faced Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors in four consecutive NBA Finals, and Green recently said that his team always knew what James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to do.

LeBron James has an incredible basketball IQ

Former Cavs star LeBron James and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to pass against Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors during Game 2 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2015. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

LeBron James has been a gifted athlete since he was a kid. But he also has a photographic memory.

“I’ve always had it,” James said in 2020, per Sports Illustrated. “A lot of my friends when I was younger playing the game, they were like, ‘Man, how did you remember that play? Or how did you remember that? It was so long ago.’ I never thought about it. I didn’t even know what photographic memory meant when I was younger until I got older. It’s something that I was born with or blessed with.”

In fact, James once told a Toronto Raptors player what they were supposed to do for a specific play during an Eastern Conference Finals matchup.

“They come out of a timeout, and Kyle Lowry throws his hands up (to call a play) or whatever, and the guy goes, ‘Dang, I didn’t see the call,’” James’ former teammate Channing Frye recalled on an NBA TV segment about LeBron earlier this month. “Bron goes, ‘You’re supposed to be in the corner, and then you’re gonna cut across. He’s gonna set a down screen; you’re gonna come over, we’re gonna switch that, and Kyle’s going to have to play me one-on-one.’”

Countless stories have highlighted just how brilliant James is over the years, and they are all incredible to hear every time.

But he always met his match against the Warriors.

Draymond Green says the Warriors knew what LeBron and the Cavs were going to do

LeBron James and the Cavs faced Draymond Green and the Warriors in four consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 through 2018. After Golden State defeated a shorthanded Cleveland squad in 2015, James and company won the title in 2016. But Kevin Durant then joined the Warriors in 2017, and he led them to wins in the final two meetings.

“We knew everything they were gonna do, they knew everything we were gonna do,” Green said on the Jan. 28 episode of The Old Man and the Three podcast. “… When we go up against each other, there was no surprises. LeBron wasn’t going to do anything, other than like make a read; they weren’t going to do anything that we didn’t expect them to do. And we weren’t going to do anything that they didn’t expect us to do.”

The chess matches between the teams resulted in great games, especially when the Cavs were at full strength in 2016. But Green said it always came down to talent, and the Warriors had the edge over the Cavs in that department more times than not.

The Warriors were too much for LeBron James and the Cavs

Being a basketball genius can only get you so far. And while James always gave the Cavs a chance, the Warriors were typically more talented.

Cleveland didn’t have Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love for most of the 2015 series, and it resulted in a Golden State win. The two stars both played in 2016 and 2017, but although the Cavs won the 2016 meeting, the addition of Kevin Durant became too much in 2017 and 2018. His talent level helped the Warriors win the final two matchups between the NBA powerhouses.

“That’s (talent) what it boils down to in the end,” Green said. “When you’re on that same playing field of we’re not making game plan mistakes, we know the game plan; you’re not going to beat us running these sets for this guy or that guy; like we know all of that stuff, so it’s gonna come down to who wants it more by doing all of those little things.”

Green then pointed out how the Cavaliers went up 2-1 in 2015 after they just simply out-hustled the Warriors in the first three games. But Golden State’s talent prevailed in the final four once they finally began playing hard themselves, proving it takes a bit of talent and “doing the little things” to win.

In 2016, however, the Warriors and Cavs had one of the greatest chess matches in NBA history. Whenever Golden State changed its game plan, the Cavs adjusted and vice versa. But talent is the biggest difference maker when winning titles, and we never got something quite like that again after Durant joined the Warriors the following year.

No matter who came out on top in those series, though, both teams proved to be some of the most intelligent and talented squads in NBA history. Their brains and brawn helped them go on dominant runs to numerous NBA Finals and forever live in basketball lore.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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