After further reviewing a play in which Draymond Green made contact with the groin area of LeBron James, the NBA decided to give Green a flagrant-one, automatically suspending him for Game 5 of the series. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Cavaliers wanted even more.
Cavaliers officials reportedly lobbied the league office to upgrade the foul, which occurred in the fourth quarter of Golden State’s Game 4 win in Cleveland, to a flagrant-two foul, which would have suspended Green for Games five and six. The play was reviewed during the game by the officials on the court, who ruled that the contact was merely a common foul.
Draymond Green had already received a large amount of media attention following a kick to Steven Adams' groin in the Conference Finals, and the NBA faced criticism for not suspending Green for that play with Golden State down in the series 3-1 to the Thunder. It is likely that this additional scrutiny on Green was a factor in the decision to raise the foul to a flagrant-one.
While the Cavs are obviously trying to gain every advantage they can in order to become the first team in history to come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit, a two-game suspension of one of Golden State’s top players would have left an asterisk on this Finals series.
The Cavs are not strangers to playing shorthanded in the Finals, as the team was without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving for the majority of last year’s series against the Subs, so many fans have little sympathy for the Warriors needing to win without Green and Andrew Bogut, who injured his knee early in Game 5.
It is unlikely that any lobbying by Cleveland would have been successful in convincing the NBA to extend Green’s suspension, as the league is already facing criticism for appearing to extend the series, which many expected to be all but over with the Warriors coming home with a 3-1 lead.
The one-game suspension has already made a huge impact on this series. Draymond told reporters after Game 5 that he believed that the Warriors would have closed out the series if he had played, but with the Cavaliers stealing the win and some much needed momentum, they now have a chance to force a do-or-die Game 7 in Oakland.
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