Nobody was more polarizing throughout the NBA playoffs, and especially in the Finals, than Draymond Green. All year, he’s been the heartbeat of the Warriors, but he may have swung the series in the Cavaliers’ favor for good when he was suspended for Game 5 for hitting LeBron James in the groin. This, along with his non-suspension for a similar hit against Thunder center Steven Adams in the Western Conference Finals, led to his widespread labeling as a dirty player and a bad sport, and other such things.
But in the closing seconds of Game 7, it’s hard to criticize the way this supposed “dirty player” handled himself. He was one of the first to congratulate James, who would have had every reason to brush him off after the hit in Game 4:
Green was also candid in his post-game press conference, not taking anything away from what the Cavs accomplished or playing the what-if game about his suspension.
I mean, it sucks. Obviously, you hate to lose being we had a 3-1 lead. So you think about all that stuff. You think about: What if? What if I would have done this? What if I would have done that? All that stuff replays in your head.
But you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They were down 3-1. They continued to battle, and they never quit. Their leaders led. LeBron put the team on his back, Kyrie put the team on his back, and everybody followed suit.
Tristan was amazing throughout the course of this series, and, like I said, everybody else followed suit. I’m not sure if it’s more so about what we did than you’ve just got to give them credit. They battled, and they deserved to win it.
Whether Green’s suspension tilted the series, we’ll never know. It certainly didn’t help the Warriors, but LeBron was unreal in the last three games, putting together one of the greatest sustained performances in Finals history. And that, combined with the loss of Andrew Bogut proved just as impactful for the Warriors, who were forced to go to Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao for extended minutes. Some of their collapse is on Green, but not all of it, and for better or worse, they wouldn’t have been in the position to win the title in the first place without him.