Rudy Gobert Defense Called Out by Draymond Green

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves came up short, again, in Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets. Plenty of things went wrong for Chris Finch’s club, and Nikola Jokic was public enemy number one. Not even the Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert could slow him, and a noted nemesis of his, Draymond Green, was quick to point it out.

There are certainly multiple ways to look at Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. He is a great talent with multiple rings and significant success on his resume. He is also a buffoon that is consistently embarrassing himself on the court, and he has a history with the Timberwolves Rudy Gobert. Earlier this season, Draymond put the Minnesota center in a choke hold, and bias certainly has play in his analysis of the Timberwolves star, but he also comes correct.

Minnesota Timberwolves need Rudy Gobert to do more

On Tuesday night, when the Minnesota Timberwolves had a significant opportunity to retake momentum in the series, Rudy Gobert was unable to come through. Facing the MVP in Nikola Jokic, the Serbian was able to have his way with the Minnesota center. Nothing Gobert was able to do slowed The Joker down, and his third quarter was something of a masterpiece.

“Two things on why this series is not coming back to Minnesota. Number one, the big Frenchman is sitting on that podium speaking his native language, ‘we we we [aka: wi, wi, wi in French] need to do this’. You you you need to get a stop, not ‘we’. Karl-Anthony Towns is actually doing a pretty good job when he’s on Joker. It’s you, my man, that’s getting cooked. So there’s no ‘we’. Yes, you do need help from other guys, but on some of those, help can’t help you. You just gotta get a stop. So, that’s Number one.”

Draymond Green talking about Rudy Gobert on the TNT postgame show

You’d think Draymond Green has played enough playoff series to know that game 6 is back in Minnesota, so the series will be back at Target Center on Thursday night. So let’s set the record straight, there. Now, let’s talk about Rudy Gobert vs Nikola Jokic.

During this series the best defensive game Minnesota has played against Jokic came in a game without Gobert. Having just experienced the birth of his first child, Gobert missed Game 2, and the combination of Karl Anthony Towns and Naz Reid slowed the Nuggets big man. Finding a way to replicate that success isn’t something Minnesota has been able to do, and nothing Rudy Gobert has done is working.

“The second half, we got a little too demoralized and we can’t have that. I think we have to be mentally tough, individually and collectively, to be able to keep playing our game and not let anything that happened in the game affect the way we play and the way we…affect our confidence and the way we compete.” Nothing Gobert suggested is incorrect, it is a team game, but his team needs him to step up against one of the best in the world in a way which he has yet to do.

A Switch Must be Made for Rudy Gobert vs Nikola Jokic

Chris Finch isn’t going to bench his Defensive Player of the Year, nor should he. That said, it’s clear that the defensive matchup with Nikola Jokic isn’t currently working. When the Timberwolves had things rolling in the first two games of the series, they were frustrating Jokic and keeping his big body moving. Although Towns and Reid don’t have the length that Gobert does, they were able to move Jokic with athleticism.

It will be on both Finch and Micah Nori to figure out a way for Gobert to be utilized and not wasted against the Nuggets star. Maybe that means making him a second line of defense and more of the rim protector, or maybe it’s telling him to ratchet up the physicality and hoping that the officials swallow their whistles. No matter what, repeating the same process that has played out the past three games isn’t going to work.

Related: NBA Fines Rudy Gobert Again, Proving it Pays to Be Jamal Murray

Draymond Green definitely has feelings behind calling out Gobert specifically, but if you want to claim being the best defender in the world, then shutting down the best player has to be part of your resume. Draymond went on to chalk this series up as finished. Here is the rest of his quote from the video above, which included strays for KAT.

“Number two, when you’re in these playoff series, for me, I’m always looking for the smallest ounce of weakness that I can find. And the way Karl-Anthony Towns walked off that floor and limped, after he played the rest of that game totally fine… and then he could barely walk leaving the court.

They don’t believe anymore. And when you lose belief, that’s a championship team you’re playing, when you lose the belief, it’s over. And they don’t believe they can win anymore, which means this series is over.”

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