During Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, LeBron James and Draymond Green got into a spat after James stepped over Green. Green lashed out and – apparently, inadvertently – hit James in the groin. Green has had a reputation as a dirty player for a while now, a reputation that has only gotten more pronounced after his kick to Steven Adams’ groin in the Western Conference Finals that helped his flagrant foul count come close to the tipping point.
Following Game 4, the NBA announced they were interviewing players about the James/Green incident, a strong suggestion that the league was considering reviewing the altercation and levying additional penalties. The results of that review finally came on Sunday, and Green will indeed receive an automatic suspension for the Warriors’ potential clinching Game 5.
James was also assessed with a technical foul.
Stu Jackson, a former NBA head coach and general manager who now acts as Associate Commissioner for the Big East Conference, offered his expert opinion on Twitter over the weekend. That expert opinion was enough to make the Warriors worried and begin preparing for the suspension that eventually came.
Green being out for Game 5 could have enormous repercussions for the Finals. The Warriors are back home, with a chance to clinch, and will be without one of their key players. Green’s ability to defend LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and anyone else the Cavs throw at him, alleviates the strain on the rest of the squad. Meanwhile, the Cavs – who were able to blow out the Warriors in Game 3 and narrowly lost in Game 4 – could smell blood in the water and take advantage of one of the best players in this year’s postseason suddenly being unavailable.
In the 2016 NBA Playoffs thus far, Green has averaged nearly 38 minutes and 15 points per game, but it’s his defense that’s allowed the Warriors to reach the cusp of their second championship. When Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have disappeared for stretches, Dray has been on the court putting in work and reminding everyone the Warriors are far more than two Splash Brothers.
If the Cavs can steal a Game 5 at the Oracle Arena without Draymond Green on the court, they’ll head back to Cleveland only down 3-2 in the series and then all bets are off.