Who would have thought that the outcome of the Western Conference Finals may hinge on a kick? In a series in which Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are on the floor giving fans a nightly show, the deciding factor in the series may not fall on their world-class talents. Of all things possible, a kick has the probability of being the most important moment of the series.
The best regular-season team in NBA history may be in need of a lifeline as its season is on the brink. The Golden State Warriors are currently down 2-1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but that's not the issue. The Warriors were down against Memphis and Cleveland during last year's playoffs, and even though it's a new year, they know how to come back when facing adversity. The potential problem that they may be facing is that they possibly could be missing the most intriguing player in the NBA for some duration of time, Draymond Green.
The All-Star forward kicked Steven Adams in the groin during the second quarter of Game 3. The kick resulted in a Flagrant 1, but Green wasn't ejected from the game after further review from the officials.
Known for being a pesky player, Green is always in the fray when dealing with the opposing team. Whether it's barking at opposing players or committing a hard foul, he's always there, in the heat of battle. For me, it's something that I enjoy watching, since a lot of the players in the NBA are BFFs. Green is the total opposite, which is refreshing as a basketball fan.
Some think he’s passionate, and there those who think he is a dirty player. If you take a poll in the state of Oklahoma, there would be a consensus vote against him. Prior to Game 3, Steven Adams admitted that Green has reached peak annoyingness due to his style of play. If the incident is brought up toward Warriors fans, they will defend Day-Day just as head coach Steve Kerr did. If you talk to fans of the OKC Thunder, they will say the opposite.
Draymond threw in his two cents, noting that the kick wasn't intentional. In a post-game interview, he stated:
“I followed through on a shot. Like I’d try to kick somebody in the midsection. He probably wants to have kids one day. I’m not trying to end that on a basketball court. That don’t make sense. So I brought the ball over the top this way, he fouled me, and my leg went up.
“I know my (abdominal) core’s not strong enough to stop my leg halfway from wherever it was going. Honestly, I didn’t know I hit him. I walked to the three-point line, clapped everybody’s hands, and I turned around and he’s on the floor.”
Accidents happen, but in this case, it's unknown if it was intentional or accidental. With it being the second time Green hit Adams in the family jewels in the series, it makes the situation a lot more interesting. Despite the qualms about Draymond, he hasn't had a long history of these types of incidents, but there are two recent incidents with Adams now that add another wrench with the decision that will be made on a potential suspension.
Will the kick result into a suspension? At this point, that remains an unknown. In a similar situation, a member of the LeBron James protection team — Dahntay Jones — was suspended for nailing Bismack Biyombo in the groin in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With Jones being suspended, it makes the ordeal involving Adams and Green a lot more intriguing. While Jones is the 15th man on the Cavs' roster, it was an easy decision for the NBA to suspend him, because he has no impact on the series.
Since Green is an All-Star, will he get a pass? The rules have to be consistent no matter who is the culprit, but in the NBA, we know that star power holds value. There is a chance that the league may hold a double standard when handling Green's situation, and if it does, it would be a bad look — and the conspiracy theorists will go full throttle.
As the Warriors look to even up the series, they can't afford to have their Swiss Army Knife in street clothes. Through three games Draymond’s play has fluctuated. In two losses, he has a negative 43 plus/minus rating compared to a plus 24 plus/minus in the team’s lone victory. The numbers show that when he is at the top of his game, the team is close to unbeatable, and when he is not playing like himself, the overall production of the team takes a hit. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that he is the heartbeat to the Warriors team, and a team without its heart makes it lifeless.
I honestly believe that Green shouldn't be suspended. I may be in the minority in believing that the kick wasn't intentional.The determination of his eligibility of the next game falls on NBA Excutive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki Vandeweghe. Vandeweghe has to examine the intent of the kick and if that player has had displayed these types of behaviors before.
Losing Draymond in Game 4 would make it a daunting task for the Golden State to defeat the Thunder in Chesapeake Arena with the momentum favoring OKC. It's tough to replace someone of his magnitude, because he does so much on both ends. The worst-case scenario would be going down 3-1 heading to Oracle. If Green is out for Game 4, the possibility of the Golden State losing the game increases despite having the league MVP and fellow All-Star Klay Thompson. As the decision looms, Warriors fans will be on pins and needles hoping that Day-Day gets to play in the next playoff game.
If there isn't a suspension, the Warriors will be just fine, but if he does get suspended, the whole Bay Area could be on life support.