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How Warriors’ Draymond Green endured five intense rounds with Nikola Jokic

After cementing the Warriors’ series-clinching victory over the Nuggets in Game 5 on Wednesday, Draymond Green quickly sought out Denver’s Nikola Jokic.

Green and Jokic locked arms and congratulated each other on a well-played series. The two exchanged smiles, embraced, then went their separate ways for the final time this season as camera crews flooded the Chase Center court.

Green and Jokic made each other’s lives hell for five games — a duel reminiscent of a classic heavyweight slugfest. But at the end, all that remained was mutual respect.

“I just told him thank you for making me better,” Green said. “It’s absolutely incredible to play against a guy like that, incredible, incredible talent. … It’s an honor and a pleasure to play against someone so talented and so skilled.”

Green needed this series.

Entering the playoffs, people questioned whether the four-time All-Star could return to the level of play that made him the early season front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year. Suffering a lower back injury at age 32 is no joke — just ask teammate Andre Iguodala.

After missing 29 regular-season games because of the injury, it was unclear whether Green could handle a player such as Jokic in a seven-game series, if he’d be able to summon the levels of intensity and physicality necessary to limit the Serbian center’s otherworldly production.

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