OKLAHOMA CITY — The morning after, the gist of the Warriors’ viewpoint on Draymond Green’s flagrant kick to Steven Adams remained the same: Green was trying to draw a foul, he didn’t intend to make contact with the Thunder center’s groin, and he shouldn’t be suspended for a critical Game 4.
But Golden State also offered up two new defenses at the Chesapeake Energy Arena before its Monday practice. First, that Green’s kick shouldn’t be viewed as a pattern of behavior following his previous below-the-belt shot to Adams in Game 2. Second, that his kick shouldn’t be equated to the punch Dahntay Jones threw to the groin of Raptors center Bismack Biyombo that earned the Cavaliers guard a one-game suspension for Game 4 of the East finals.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters that Green’s two below-the-belt shots to Adams were different plays. In Game 2, Kerr argued, Green was making a basketball play by going through a natural shooting motion. In Game 3, Green was “flailing” in an attempt to “sell contact.”
“I don’t understand the argument that this has happened twice,” Kerr said. “But he went up for a shot. I don’t think you can equate the two. When you go up for a shot and the guy is challenging, that happens all the time. Everyone is saying, ‘He did this twice.’ I don’t agree with that. Does he have to be careful? I guess. Now people are watching for him.”
Green repeatedly asserted that his kick to Adams was unintentional, noting that his immediate reaction on the play was to head to the free-throw line to shoot his free throws and that he was surprised to see Adams doubled over on the ground. He then drew a distinction between his action and the punch that landed Jones's suspension.
“[Jones] punched him,” he said. “If I come punch you in your head, I probably did that on purpose because I’m going to intentionally use my arm. I don’t think you can ever really compare a leg to an arm.”
Golden State’s All-Star forward also pushed back against comments made by Russell Westbrook after Game 3, who suggested that Green meant to kick Adams.
“Russell said I did it on purpose, but he’s a part of this superstar group that started all this acting in the NBA,” Green said. “I didn’t. I sold the call. I don’t think it can be compared to a punch. A leg going in the air is completely different.”
Westbrook predictably defended his honor when he was informed of Green’s comments a few hours later.
“I've never been fined for one flop since I've been playing in the NBA,” he said. “I don't know about no flopping or nothing. I don't know how to flop. But it seems like he was the one that was flailing, kicking his legs out and stuff yesterday. It wasn't me.”
Oklahoma City’s All-Star point guard added that Green’s comments were merely a deflection. “That's normal, that’s normal,” Westbrook said. “Hey, you've got to bring somebody into it. He wants to take the heat off himself.”
As for Adams, the Thunder center said he was “sore” but “fine” after the blow to the groin and ready to go for Game 4. When asked, he said he hasn’t taken to wearing a cup as protection.
“Not yet,” Adams said. “Probably going to consider it, though, due to the consistency of the hits.”
The NBA is expected to issue its ruling on Green’s availability for Game 4 on Monday. The league has the power to suspend and/or fine Green, upgrade his Flagrant Foul 1 to a Flagrant Foul 2, rescind the Flagrant Foul 1, or simply uphold the Flagrant Foul 1 and add no additional punishment.
“No, I’m not bracing for the worst,” Green said, when asked about the punishment. “I can see how somebody can think it’s intentional but nobody can go in my head and say that Draymond is thinking about kicking him. People are going to judge what they want to judge but I know I didn’t do it on purpose.”
The Thunder hold a 2–1 series lead and will host Game 4 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Tuesday.
“Regardless, I think we can beat them with or without him,” Adams said.