Draymond Green‘s junkyard dog was out in force Friday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
But Green held the leash tightly when tangling with LeBron James, saving himself from a technical foul and a suspension for Game 5 in the Warriors’ 108-97 win over the Cavaliers.
The two got wrapped up at the three-point line during the fourth quarter, and with frustration running high after Cleveland’s offense hit a brick wall, James was held back by teammates while Green took the high road.
James appeared to step on Green’s hand after first walking over him, while the Warriors starting power forward lay on the hardwood between half court and the top of the three-point arc.
Green has been hit with six technical fouls during the playoffs and a seventh would result in a one game suspension per NBA rules.
Inadvertent or not, it’s in Cleveland’s interest for Green to miss a game, especially with the Cavaliers down 3-1 in the NBA Finals.
An integral part of the Warriors’ strategy and prowess on both ends of the floor, Green’s intense mentality is an asset to his game, but also a liability in some cases.
Green became a national sensation for all the wrong reasons after he flung his leg in the air, making solid contact with the reproductive organs of Thunder center Steven Adams.
It’s not uncommon for Green, or numerous other players, to attempt to draw contact by flailing body parts while in the air and taking a shot. Green does it at least once per game on average, and denied that the landing spot of his leg was intentional.
In the case of James and Green, the way his teammates rushed to help almost looked orchestrated. While the Warriors are deep at most positions, replacing Green might be tougher than making up for two-time MVP Stephen Curry. The Cavaliers only scored 42 second half points in Game 4, and largely due to Green’s impressive ability to be everywhere on defense.
Cleveland’s largest slump came in the fourth quarter, when they only scored 20 points, eight of them coming in the final minute when the game’s outcome was already decided.
If the series went to six or seven games, and Green did miss one with a seventh technical foul, Golden State would likely be forced to mix Marreese Speights, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston in to fill the void.
Spieghts is Green’s direct backup, but can only play well in stretches, while forward James Michael McAdoo is strictly a reserve who sits on the end of the Warriors’ bench.
Green did well to stay in the team’s lane and not get feisty, which is harder for Green than anyone on the Golden State roster. And he’ll get to start in Game 5 as a result, as the Warriors attempt to close out the Cavaliers and their second consecutive NBA Championship.