The Golden State Warriors are having enough trouble with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, and now there’s a real possibility that Draymond Green won’t be available for Game 4. A suspension might be looming for the All-Star after he delivered a low blow to Thunder center Steven Adams on Sunday and for the second time this series.
Green was given a flagrant foul for kicking Adams with 5:57 left in the second quarter of Game 3, in what turned out to be a 133-105 loss. The kick occurred as Green was fouled himself and as he attempted a shot in the paint. There’s been much speculation that Green's actions were intentional, and he likely won’t play on Tuesday if the NBA decides he did it on purpose.
"I followed through on a shot," Green said after the game. "I'm not trying to kick somebody in the men's section. I'm sure he wants to have kids one day. I'm not trying to end that on the basketball court. That don't make sense. I brought the ball over the top this way [makes motion], he fouled me, and I brought my leg up. I mean, I know my 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 and clapped everybody's hand, and I turned around and he was on the floor. I'm like, 'What happened?' I'm standing at the three-point line, I look at [Andrew] Bogut, and he looked at the replay, and he was like [cringes]. So then I looked at the replay, like, 'Uh oh.'”
Precedent for a Green suspension was set just hours before Golden State was blown out by Oklahoma City. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dahntay Jones was suspended for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals for hitting Toronto Raptors’ center Bismack Biyombo with a low blow at the end of Game 3.
Sunday marked the second time in two games that Green kicked Adams in the same area. A similar incident occurred as Green drove towards the basket in the second quarter of Game 2 on Wednesday.
"Honestly, I think it's intentional," Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said of Sunday's incident. "That's two times in the last two games. I don't think you can keep [hitting] somebody in their private areas."
Suspending Jones has limited influence on the Cavs' fate—he’s a marginal player who’s only totaled 20 minutes in the playoffs. But forcing Green to sit out a game could could be a deciding factor in the conference finals. He finished seventh in the MVP voting and was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season.
The NBA has suspended key players for playoff games somewhat recently. Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were both suspended for Game 5 of the 2007 Western Conference finals for leaving the bench when their Phoenix Suns teammate, Steve Nash, was knocked to the ground towards the end of Game 4. The series was tied 2-2 at the time of the suspension, and the San Antonio Spurs went on to win in six games.
Adams, a 22-year-old from New Zealand in his third NBA season, has a reputation for physical play. In January, the Los Angeles Times published results of a poll of coaches, assistants and players that listed Adams as the second dirtiest player in the league behind the Cavs' Matthew Dellavedova.