Whether the NBA overreacted or Golden State’s emotional leader went too far was a matter of debate at the Warriors’ practice facility Sunday afternoon.
Regardless, Draymond Green will sit out Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
The NBA suspended Green after he was assessed a flagrant foul 1 for hitting LeBron James in the groin as James stepped over Green, who was on the floor in the fourth quarter of Golden State’s Game 4 win at Cleveland on Friday.
The forward was automatically suspended for his fourth flagrant foul point in the postseason. The Warriors lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, so they will try to win their second straight NBA title without one of their top players.
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This obviously irks the Warriors, who tried to avoid publicly criticizing the NBA.
“It’s irrelevant what any of us think,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “We just have to accept the decision and move on.”
It’s irrelevant what any of us think. We just have to accept the decision and move on.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr on forward Draymond Green’s one-game suspension
Green also kicked Oklahoma City center Steven Adams in the groin during the Western Conference finals.
“The cumulative points system is designed to deter flagrant fouls in our game,” said NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe. “While Draymond Green’s actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a standalone act, the number of flagrant points he has earned triggers a suspension for Game 5.”
Green’s chippiness on the court has helped him become an All-Star, but it can rankle opponents. The Warriors, of course, sided with Green.
Center Andrew Bogut took issue with James stepping over Green. Others suggested that Green was disciplined because of James’ status and Cleveland’s griping about Green.
“That’s a question for the guys up top in the league,” said Warriors guard Shaun Livingston. “We all have our own opinions.”
Also, the Warriors say James instigated the altercation late in a game in which the Warriors had taken control. Bogut said stepping over a fallen player is considered disrespectful and dismissive.
“If you step over someone, you better be ready to go at it,” Bogut said. “Or if someone steps over you, you try to get straight up and make them fall.”
If you step over someone, you better be ready to go at it. Or if someone steps over you, you try to get straight up and make them fall.
Warriors center Andrew Bogut
Instead, Green swung at James’ groin in retaliation.
The Warriors now must play without Green, whose versatility on offense and defense has been integral to Golden State’s success.
The team learned of the suspension during Sunday’s practiceand did not make Green available to the media. Kerr said Green was “disappointed” by the news.
Kerr did not say who will start in place of the 6-foot-7 Green, whose rebounding and defense are important in Golden State’s small lineup. He also initiates the Warriors’ offense on fast breaks after rebounds, freeing guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to find their spots on the floor for jump shots.
No team has overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, but Green’s absence gives the Cavaliers a better chance to force Game 6 in Cleveland.
Thompson said the Warriors will “win for (Green). Nobody can make up what Draymond does individually. Luckily for us, we’ve got such a deep, talented team, we can really do it, and we believe it 1,000 percent.”