Draymond Green is in danger of being suspended for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals after he landed a kick straight to the groin of Thunder big man Steven Adams midway through Oklahoma City’s 133-105 Game 3 victory.
Green and Adams have scrapped throughout the series; after Game 2, during which Adams also took a shot to the groin from Green, Adams said Green had reached “peak annoying-ness.” But Adams is now undoubtedly reconsidering his previous claim.
Here’s the play in question from Sunday night. As Green drove to the basket, Adams fouled him under the rim. Coming down from the shot attempt, as Green looked to be selling the foul to the refs, he caught Adams between the legs with a kick.
As the referees reviewed the play, and reviewed it again, chants of “kick him out!” erupted throughout Chesapeake Energy Arena. Green maintained that he wasn’t doing anything malicious, simply going to the rim and coming down in an unfortunate spot. Ultimately he was given a Flagrant 1 foul.
Many watching, however, felt that Green’s kick was clearly intentional, though maybe not to the exact spot where it landed. On SportsCenter after the game, Brendan Haywood said he thought Green meant to kick Adams, and he called for Green to be suspended.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game that he didn’t think anything nefarious happened.
“Stuff like that happens all the time,” Kerr said. “There’s contact, people’s arms, legs flailing. If they think it’s on purpose, play the game, you know. This stuff happens all the time.” He went on to say that the Russell Westbrook of the Thunder “kicks out his feet on every three and there is contact – I mean, that’s just part of the game.”
Stephen Curry echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“It just looked like he got fouled and was trying to show the ref he got fouled, maybe try to finish the shot and inadvertently got him,” Curry said. “I was kind of shocked when they went to go review because I didn’t know what happened. But there’s no intent. Watching the replay, I think that’s clear.”
Green, unsurprisingly, denied any intent:
Draymond denies he intentionally kicked Adams: “I’m sure he wants to have kids one day, I’m not trying to end that on the basketball court.”
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 23, 2016
On the other end of things, OKC head coach Billy Donovan said he woulddefer=”defer”to the league on this, as the NBA has a policy of reviewing every flagrant foul doled out during a game.
“I’m not here to say whether it was or was not intentional,” Donovan said. “I don’t know. But obviously it’s happened twice in the last two games, and that’s something the league will take a look at. I’m sure they look at probably precedent or things that have happened in the past and they go through it.”
Russell Westbrook was less diplomatic:
Russell Westbrook on Draymond Green’s kick: pic.twitter.com/7NxxXcOYid
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) May 23, 2016
Adams, in the end, seemed to have the best view of the whole matter:
Steven Adams on if Draymond should be suspended for Game 4: “It’s not my call, mate. Just moving on.”
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) May 23, 2016
If Green is suspended, the Warriors could find themselves in real trouble. They already trail 2-1 in the series and have conceded home-court advantage to the Thunder. The defending champs looked out of sync in Game 3, rattled by the Thunder’s pace and shotmaking. Green is not just Golden State’s X-factor – the piece that unlocks the unstoppable Warriors offense – he is also its leader on the court. A 2-1 deficit is one thing; a 2-1 deficit without him is another.
As USA Today’s Sam Amick notes, the precedent does not look great for Green. In the waning minutes of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Dahntay Jones landed a blow to Bismack Biyombo’s groin and received a one-game suspension. The NBA has ruled similarly in a few other instances, too, meaning a one-game suspension seems likely for Green:
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 23, 2016
Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals tips off Tuesday night. The NBA will most likely rule on Green’s status beforehand.