OAKLAND: Draymond Green’s latest low blow in the NBA playoffs, a strike to the groin of LeBron James, could deliver a kick in the crotch to the Golden State Warriors’ title plans.
Green’s status for Monday’s (Tuesday in Manila) fifth game of the NBA Finals was in doubt Saturday after the 26-year-old Warriors forward hit the Cleveland superstar between the legs with a flailing arm when the two tangled and Green fell to the court late in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 108-97 Golden State victory.
“He stepped over me,” Green told the league’s television network. “There’s many routes you can take. Don’t step over me like that… I don’t care who you are. I’m not going to back down.”
James and Green exchanged heated words, with the Cleveland star saying “some of the words that came out of his mouth were a little bit overboard,” while Green would only say, “Stuff that’s said on the court you will never get from me.”
The defending champion Warriors seized a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and could capture the crown on their home court on Monday.
But repeated major fouls by Green could lead to a suspension for striking James if league officials review the play and decide Green committed a flagrant foul.
Green would be banned for game five for accumulated playoff violations, most notably a kick to the groin of Oklahoma City center Steven Adams, a New Zealander, in the Western Conference finals.
Referees handed Green a flagrant foul-1 but a league review upgraded the blow to a flagrant foul-2 and fined Green $25,000. Combined with a first-round flagrant foul, Green faces a suspension if his strike on James is upgraded.
“I don’t know what should happen. It’s not my call,” James said. “That’s the league office. They will take a look at it.”
Asked if he expected any action from league officials over the play, James said, “No.”
Green has averaged 15.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.9 blocked shots and 1.6 steals a game for the Warriors in the playoffs.
Also, Green defends James and his absence would make life easier for Cleveland’s superstar playmaker, who averages 31.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists in games when his team is facing elimination.
“My mindset is let’s get one,” James said, hoping to force a sixth game in Cleveland on Thursday. “We’ve got to fly home anyway so we might as well play on our home floor again.”