Draymond Green is in danger of missing Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals due to a suspension after landing a kick straight to the groin of Thunder big-man Steven Adams midway through Game 3.
Green and Adams have scrapped throughout the series — after Game 2, during which Adams also took a shot to the groin from Green, Adams said Green had reached "peak annoying-ness."But after the kick he took during Game 3, Adams is undoubtedly reconsidering his previous claim.
Here's the play in question from Sunday night. As Green drove to the basket, he was fouled by Adams under the rim. Coming down from the shot-attempt, as Green looked to be selling the foul to the refs, he caught Adams between the legs with what looked like an ugly kick.
As the refs reviewed the play, and reviewed it again, chants of "kick him out!" erupted throughout the arena. Green maintained that he wasn't doing anything malicious, simply going to the rim and coming down in an unfortunate spot. Ultimately he was given a Flagrant-1 foul.
Many watching, however, felt that Green's kick was clearly intentional, though maybe not to the exact spot where it landed. On SportsCenter after the game, Brendan Haywood said he thought Green meant to kick Adams, and he called for Green to be suspended.
Warriors' coach Steve Kerr said after the game that he didn't think anything nefarious happened.
"Stuff like that happens all the time. There's contact, people's arms, legs flailing. If they think it's on purpose, play the game, you know," Kerr said. "This stuff happens all the time. Westbrook kicks out his feet on every three and there is contact, I mean, that's just part of the game."
Stephen Curry echoed his coach's sentiment.
"It just looked like he got fouled and was trying to show the ref he got fouled, maybe try to finish the shot and inadvertently got him," Curry said. "I was kind of shocked when they went to go review because I didn't know what happened. But there's no intent. Watching the replay, I think that's clear."
Green, unsurprisingly, denied any intent:
Draymond denies he intentionally kicked Adams: "I'm sure he wants to have kids one day, I'm not trying to end that on the basketball court."
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 23, 2016
On the other end of things, OKC head coach Billy Donovan said he would defer to the league on this, as the NBA has a policy of reviewing every flagrant foul doled out during a game.
"I'm not here to say whether it was or was not intentional," Donovan said. "I don't know. But obviously it's happened twice in the last two games, and that's something the League will take a look at. I'm sure they look at probably precedent or things that have happened in the past and they go through it."
Russell Westbrook was less diplomatic:
Russell Westbrook on Draymond Green's kick: pic.twitter.com/7NxxXcOYid
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) May 23, 2016
If Green is suspended, the Warriors could find themselves in real trouble. They already trail 2-1 and have conceded home-court advantage to the Thunder. In Game 3, the defending champs look completely out of sync, rattled by the Thunders' pace and shot-making. Green is not just Golden State's x-factor — the piece that unlocks the unstoppable Warriors' offense — he is also their leader on the court. A 2-1 deficit is one thing. A 2-1 deficit without him is another.
Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals tips off of Tuesday night. The NBA should rule on Green's play beforehand.