With Draymond Green suspended, the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to overwhelm the Golden State Warriors for a 112-97 victory to extend the NBA Finals to at least six games. Green received a flagrant-one foul for swiping at LeBron James‘ groin, bringing his total flagrant foul points for the playoffs to four, which triggered an automatic one-game suspension.
There was a lot of backlash to the decision, and not just from members of the Warriors. Former NBA star Reggie Miller tweeted that if the Finals was tied at two games apiece, Green would not have been banned from Game 5. If that's really the case, the league would be in big trouble.
Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy added fuel to the fire as well, telling SI Now that the league suspended Green to give Cleveland a better chance of extending the series.
“I think when you look at the overt acts that Green has committed before, they were definitely more severe than this act, and yet he’s going to end up with a flagrant foul and suspension because of it,” Donaghy said. “In the past, I believe it was disregarded because [the Warriors] were down in the series. Here, they’re up in the series, so I think it’s a situation where, with that, it gives Cleveland a better chance of prolonging the series.”
Donaghy is referencing subsequent kicks and trips from Green in Games 4 and 5 of their Western Conference Finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, other than the groin kick to Steven Adams, that weren't given flagrants.
Donaghy was terminated from the league in 2007 after taking part in a gambling scandal around the NBA, and since he has constantly accused the league of corruption.
In general, he believes teams down in series are instructed to be favored by the officials.
“Definitely indirectly with the tape sessions that took place and how they would show you plays that they wanted you to concentrate on in the game that,” Donaghy said. “It was always a situation where the team down in the series was going to benefit from those calls.”
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