OAKLAND, Calif. — To get to their coronation, the Warriors will first need to wade through another controversy.
The NBA announced Sunday that Golden State All-Star forward Draymond Green has been suspended for Game 5 of the Finals against Cleveland on Monday, with the Warriors leading the series 3–1. The decision came after the NBA ruled that Green had made a flagrant “retaliatory swipe” to the groin of Cavaliers forward LeBron James.
Here’s a quick rundown of the implications, fallout and other issues surrounding Green’s suspension as the Warriors aim to close out their back-to-back championship runs.
Why was Green suspended?
Technically, Green was suspended because he has accumulated four “Flagrant Foul Points” during the playoffs under the NBA’s postseason guidelines.
According to league rules, a player is automatically suspended for one game during the playoffs once he accumulates four points, with a Flagrant Foul 1 being worth one point and a Flagrant Foul 2 being worth two points.
During Golden State’s 108–97 Game 4 victory over Cleveland on Friday, Green delivered a low blow to James after the Cavaliers forward stepped over him. Although Green was not assessed a foul on the play by the game officials, the league office review determined the blow was worthy a Flagrant Foul 1, given to contact that is deemed “unnecessary.”
Entering the Finals, Green had already accumulated three Flagrant Foul points.
In the closing seconds of Golden State’s 97–96 Game 3 loss to Houston in the first round, Green tackled Michael Beasley to the court. Although the game officials didn’t assess a foul, a league office review upgraded that to a Flagrant Foul 1, giving him one point.
Then, during a hotly contested sequence from Golden State’s 133–105 Game 3 loss to the Thunder in the Western Conference finals, Green kicked Steven Adams below the belt as he followed through on a shot attempt. The game officials deemed Green’s play a Flagrant Foul 1, but a league office review upgraded that to a Flagrant Foul 2, which is a designation that applies to contact that is “unnecessary and excessive.”
With one point from the tackle of Beasley, two from the kick of Adams and one from the swipe at James, Green had accumulated four points and therefore needed to sit for Game 5.
“The cumulative points system is designed to deter flagrant fouls in our game” NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said. “While Draymond Green’s actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a standalone act, the number of flagrant points he has earned triggers a suspension for Game 5.”
As part of the suspension, Green cannot attend Oracle Arena for Game 5. If the Warriors clinch the title, reports indicate that Green will be allowed to participate in the celebrations with his teammates.
See the 23 best Sports Illustrated photos of Draymond Green
SI's Best Photos of Draymond Green
Draymond Green shoots a layup during Michigan State's game against North Carolina on Dec. 1, 2009 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Draymond Green celebrates Michigan State's 85-83 win over Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21, 2010 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Draymond Green shoots against Leslie McDonald during the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic between Michigan State and North Carolina on Nov. 11, 2011 aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.
Draymond Green dunks during the State Farm Champions Classic between Michigan State and Duke on Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Draymond Green trips over Aaron Craft during Michigan State's game against Ohio State on Feb. 11, 2012 at Value City Arena at Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Draymond Green shoots against Deshaun Thomas during the game between Michigan State and Ohio State on Feb. 11, 2012 at Value City Arena at Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Draymond Green stands alongside Jared Sullinger during Michigan State's game against Ohio State on Feb. 11, 2012 at Value City Arena at Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Draymond Green grabs a rebound over Jared Swopshire during the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game between Michigan State and Louisville on March 22, 2012 at US Airways Center in Phoenix.
Draymond Green bites his jersey during the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game between Michigan State and Louisville on March 22, 2012 at US Airways Center in Phoenix.
Draymond Green grabs a rebound against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan during Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on April 29, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Draymond Green shoots against Blake Griffin and Chris Paul during Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on May 1, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Draymond Green celebrates during Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on May 1, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Draymond Green leaps to the basket against Monta Ellis during the game between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 13, 2014 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Justin Holiday, Brandon Rush, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry laugh on the bench during Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies on May 15, 2015 at FedExForum in Memphis.
Draymond Green walks to the locker room prior to Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on June 11, 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Draymond Green goes up to block Tristan Thompson during Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on June 14, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green celebrate during Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on June 16, 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green celebrate following Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on June 16, 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson pose together during their SI cover photo shoot on Feb. 11, 2016 at Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.
Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson appear on the March 7, 2016 cover of Sports Illustrated.
Draymond Green shoots during the Golden State Warriors game against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 9, 2016 at FedExForum in Memphis.
Draymond Green shoots against Danny Green during the game between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs on April 10, 2016 at AT&T Center in San Antonio.
Draymond Green appears on the May 23, 2016 cover of Sports Illustrated.
Was James punished?
The NBA also retroactively assessed a technical foul to James for stepping over Green during the altercation, which occurred late in the fourth quarter of Golden State’s 108–97 win. The league determined that James’s action qualified as a “physical taunt.”
“I’m not a disrespectful guy,” James said Sunday, when asked about the step over. “I don't disrespect anybody. … I was just trying to get back into the play.”
James is eligible to play in Game 5 as Cleveland looks to extend its season and force a Game 6 at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday.
Did the NBA make the right decision in suspending Green?
This was a defensible decision on the NBA’s part, even though its implications are potentially gigantic within this series and it opens up the league to conspiratorial charges that it’s trying to extend the series for its own financial benefit.
By the book, Green’s action was worthy of a flagrant foul. The blow to James was certainly “unnecessary” and it was delivered to a sensitive region. Unfortunately for Green, he can’t really play the “I was reacting to James stepping over me” defense, as swiping at James was not an act of self-defense or a basketball play, but a pure retaliation.
After Game 3, James said he expected the NBA to review the play, adding that he didn’t expect Green to be suspended. On Sunday, James suggested that he felt the low blow fit the definition of a flagrant foul.
“I felt like at that point in time it was a little bit outside of basketball,” he said.
Green’s track record did him no favors here. Remember, the NBA already cut him some slack during the Western Conference finals, when it opted not to suspend him for the direct kick to Adams’s groin. During that episode, Green hammered home the idea that he hadn’t acted with intent.
Now, with multiple kicks and another groin shot to consider, the NBA could reasonably conclude that Green had already used up his benefit of the doubt and it therefore shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this incident. That’s true even though the swipe at James was significantly less violent than the Adams kick.
With all of that being said, the suspension was still a surprising ruling given that it has the potential to alter the course of the Finals. Before the ruling, Golden State seemed poised to coast to the series victory. After, Golden State is left facing a number of questions while Cleveland suddenly has reason for hope.
How did the two teams react to the news?
The media session at Sunday’s practice was undeniably chippy. In addition to Green’s suspension and the fact that James had stepped over him, the Warriors seemed a bit irked James had taken Green to task for the trash-talking that occurred during the incident. Following Game 4, James told reporters at his press conference that Green had gone “overboard” with some of the language he used.
“I don’t know how the man feels,” Klay Thompson said, when asked if he thought James had overreacted with his postgame comments. “But obviously people have feelings and people’s feelings get hurt even if they're called a bad word. I guess his feelings just got hurt ... Guys talk trash in this league all the time. I’m just kind of shocked some guys take it so personal.”
“We’ve all been called plenty of bad words on the basketball court before. Some guys just react to it differently. All I can say for myself, individually, [is] I just try to ignore it or just let it fuel the fire. I don’t carry it with me when the job is done.”
James looked and sounded incredulous when informed of Thompson’s comments, laughing at first and saying “Oh my goodness” before finally responding.
“It’s so hard to take the high road,” James said. “I’ve been doing it for 13 years. It’s so hard to continue to do it, and I’m going to do it again. At the end of the day, we’ve got to go out and show up and play better tomorrow night. If we don’t, then they’re going to be back-to-back champions, and that’s it. But I’ve taken the high road again.”
That “high road” take prompted Curry’s wife, Ayesha, to chime in on Twitter, suggesting that the whole incident could have been avoided if James hadn’t stepped over Green.
“High Road,” she wrote. “Invisible bridge used to step over said person when open floor is available left to right.”
More on the brewing back-and-forth can be found right here.
Who replaces Green in Golden State’s starting lineup?
Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Sunday that he hadn’t yet decided how to replace Green.
“I found out [about the suspension] right near the end of practice,” Kerr said. “So we’ll meet as a staff after practice and discuss what our starting lineup and rotation will look like.”
Kerr has a number of options at his disposal, but it’s important to note how reliable Green has been this season. Entering Game 5, Green had missed just one game (regular season and postseason) all year: a 112–110 loss to the Nuggets on Jan. 13. Aside from Stephen Curry’s record-setting shooting and unanimous MVP level of play, Green’s consistent availability and production was probably the single biggest factor driving Golden State’s 73-win season. In the playoffs, Green’s 792 minutes lead the NBA. In addition to being one of the league’s top all-around players, Green has been an absolute rock.
Jason Thompson, the player who replaced Green in the starting lineup for the loss to the Nuggets, is no longer on the Warriors’ roster. That leaves Kerr with the following options:
Andre Iguodala: Arguably the Finals MVP through four games thanks to his defense on James, Iguodala could be more directly matched up on James if he started, with Harrison Barnes shifting up to the four. Kerr took this approach against the Thunder, when he started Iguodala alongside Green (in place of Barnes) in Game 7 so that his minutes would align with Kevin Durant’s. This approach would front-load Golden State’s rotation and require Kerr to re-jigger his bench approach.
Shaun Livingston: Starting the long-armed Livingston (and moving Barnes to the four) would give Kerr a quality perimeter defender who can switch onto James without changing Iguodala’s customary role. While Livingston isn’t a shooter, his ball-handling ability could help get Curry and Klay Thompson going early.
James Michael McAdoo: The seldom-used reserve forward came out of nowhere in Game 4, scoring two points in seven minutes. At 6' 9" and 240 pounds, with good overall skills and mobility, McAdoo could be deployed as a hole-plugging starter, allowing Kerr to buy time and keep the rest of his rotation intact as much as possible. Kerr said Sunday that he thought McAdoo played “really well” in Game 4 and he “would expect” him to see time in Game 5 as well.
Brandon Rush: A forgotten man during the playoffs, Rush started 25 games this year when Barnes was injured. A capable shooter with good size for a wing, starting Rush would help the Warriors keep their floor spacing on offense and their ability to switch defensively, while also keeping Iguodala in his standard role.
To be clear, no one player will be able to fill in for Green, who is averaging a team-high 38.1 MPG during the Finals. Kerr told reporters Sunday that he expects to play 12 players in Game 5, the maximum he will have available, as Green must fill one of his 13 active spots.
Even more interesting than who starts in Green’s place is who takes his place down the stretch, as Kerr has opted for small lineups with Green at center in Games 6 and 7 against the Thunder and in Game 4 against the Cavaliers. Without his “Death Lineup,” Kerr might prefer to go back to center Andrew Bogut late in hopes of shoring up his interior defense in Green’s absence.
Will Cleveland change its starting lineup?
Interestingly, Kerr isn’t the only coach in this series facing lineup decisions in light of Green’s suspension. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue inserted forward Richard Jefferson in place of the injured Kevin Love for Game 3, forging a new-look small-ball starting lineup. That group fared so well that Lue stuck with it for Game 4, even after Love was cleared to return.
From a matchup standpoint, Love becomes much more valuable when Green isn’t on the court, as Green can track him on the perimeter, stand up to his post game, and expose Love’s defensive limitations thanks to his shooting ability, versatility and playmaking.
Perhaps, then, Lue will use Game 5 as an opportunity to reinsert Love into his starting lineup. If Kerr elects to go with a small lineup, one that utilizes Barnes as the power forward, Love could be in position to make a bigger impact than normal.
Lue refused to divulge his Game 5 starting lineup on Sunday.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I’m just saying [the suspension] doesn’t have an impact one way or another. … His suspension doesn’t make us win the game. We’ve got to go out and win the game and take the game. So it’s a big suspension on their end, but we’ve still got to play.”
Can Golden State win without Green?
The best way to quantify Green’s play this season has been to look at his overall impact. After leading the NBA in raw plus-minus during the regular season, Green ranks second in the playoffs at +153, trailing only James (+166). With Green on the court in the Finals, the Warriors have outscored the Cavaliers by 36 points in 152 minutes. Conversely, Cleveland has outscored Golden State by seven points in the 40 minutes that Green has been on the bench.
These numbers don’t happen by accident. Green has been the backbone of the Warriors’ lethal small lineups, he’s been one of the leading rebounders in the postseason, and his defensive instincts—on the ball, off the ball and at the rim—have been key to limiting James’s effectiveness during the postseason.
To win without Green, Kerr will likely need to rely more heavily on his big lineups, he’ll need Barnes to “play big” on the glass and defensively and he’ll need Iguodala to continue to limit James as much as possible. A crazy shooting display from Curry and/or Thompson wouldn’t hurt, either.
It’s also worth noting that Golden State has lost at home just three times all season and only once in the playoffs. The Oracle Arena crowd will be a tough test for the Cavaliers, who are trying to become the first team in history to dig out of a 3–1 hole in the Finals. Green’s absence will make it more difficult for the Warriors to claim Game 5, but they should still be regarded as the favorites.
Photos of NBA championship rings throughout the years
NBA Championship Rings Through the Years
2017-18 Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their third title in four years. The team got reversible rings with 74 sapphries on one side of the ring. The 74 represents the total number of victories the team earned during the regular season and playoffs in bringing home the franchise's sixth championship.
2016-17 Golden State Warriors
The Warriors beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA Finals to win their second title in three years.
2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers
NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and the Cavs defeated the defending champion Warriors in seven games for these rings featuring the Cavaliers’ “C” wrapped around the Larry O’Brien trophy.
2014-15 Golden State Warriors
The Warriors took home these beauties after upending LeBron James and the Cavaliers in six games for their first title in 40 years.
2013-14 San Antonio Spurs
The Heat aimed to three-peat, but the Spurs had other ideas. Kawhi Leonard had a couple of breakout performances on his way to series MVP, and San Antonio ran away from Miami in five games.
2012-13 Miami Heat
These rings would have never seen the light of day had Ray Allen not made one of the greatest shots in NBA Finals history. Thanks to Allen, the Heat rallied and defeated the Spurs in overtime in Game 6, and then won two days later to repeat as champs.
2011-12 Miami Heat
LeBron James got his first ring as the Heat overwhelmed the Thunder in five games. James averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists.
2010-11 Dallas Mavericks
Dallas won three straight games to erase a 2-1 deficit and squash the newly formed Miami Big Three's title dreams. This was also the Mavericks' first NBA title in franchise history.
2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers
The Celtics held a 3-2 lead in this series, but the Lakers took care of business at the Staples Center in Game 6 and 7 to repeat as champs. This was the fifth and final set of rings for Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant.
2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers survived in a pair of overtime battles and then pulled away from the Magic in Game 5 to win their first NBA title since 2002's three-peat. Kobe Bryant won series MVP with averages of 32.4 points and 7.4 assists.
2007-08 Boston Celtics
Acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen during the off-season paid off quickly for Boston. In their first year, Garnett and Allen teamed up with Paul Pierce to defeat the Lakers in six games and bring the Celtics new jewelry for the first time since 1986.
2006-07 San Antonio Spurs
LeBron James' Cavaliers broke through to the finals, but they were no match for the Spurs, who completed the sweep for their third title in five years.
2005-06 Miami Heat
In their first-ever NBA Finals appearance, the Heat became the third team in league history to win a championship after trailing 0-2. Dwayne Wade averaged 39.3 points in the next four games as Miami won the series in six.
2004-05 San Antonio Spurs
This series was almost as close as possible. The Spurs and the Pistons entered the fourth quarter of Game 7 tied, and Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili led San Antonio in the fourth quarter to its third title under coach Greg Popovich.
2003-04 Detroit Pistons
Larry Brown had an NCAA title ring, and a 4-1 victory over the Lakers gave the coach his first NBA championship ring. Brown remains the only coach to win an NCAA and NBA title.
2002-03 San Antonio Spurs
In one of the great all-time playoff performances, Tim Duncan fell barely shy of a quadruple double with 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and eight blocks in the series-clinching Game 6.
2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers
The Nets did not put up much resistance as the Lakers completed a 4-0 sweep for their third straight title, giving coach Phil Jackson his ninth NBA title in 12 seasons.
2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers
Allen Iverson carried the 76ers to a Eastern Conference title and Game 1 victory against the Lakers, but Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal were too much for The Answer. Los Angeles won the next four games, including three straight in Philadelphia, to win its second straight championship.
1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers
In his return to coaching, Phil Jackson guided the Lakers to a 4-2 series victory against the Pacers, coached by Larry Bird. Shaquille O'Neal averaged 36.3 points and 12.3 rebounds, earning his first of three straight Finals MVPs.
1998-99 San Antonio Spurs
In a battle of dominant frontcourts, David Robinson and Tim Duncan bested Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson as the Spurs defeated the Knicks in five games for their first NBA title.
1997-98 Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan's jump shot with 5.6 seconds remaining in Game 6 gave the Bulls their second three-peat of the decade. Since then, Chicago has no NBA Finals appearances and only one conference finals appearance.
1996-97 Chicago Bulls
In a series featuring six Hall of Fame players, the Bulls defeated the Jazz in six games as Michael Jordan fought through food poisoning to lead Chicago to wins in Game 5 and Game 6.
1995-96 Chicago Bulls
Dennis Rodman tied an NBA Finals record in Game 2 with 11 offensive rebounds against Seattle and then did it again in Game 6, the series clincher, but Michael Jordan was once again the no-brainer series MVP, averaging 27.3 points 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
1994-95 Houston Rockets
Hakeem Olajuwon taught young Shaquille O'Neal a few lessons in this series as the Rockets swept the Magic for their second consecutive NBA title. The Rockets were the first No. 6 seed to win a Finals series.
1993-94 Houston Rockets
The Rockets ended a five-season title drought for the Western Conference as Hakeem Olajuwon charged victories in Game 6 and Game 7 in Houston.
1992-93 Chicago Bulls
The Bulls became the first team to three-peat since Bill Russell's Celtics in the 1960s. Chicago defeated Phoenix in six games, leaving Charles Barkley without a ring.
1991-92 Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan shrugged his way to a NBA Finals record six first-half three-pointers in Game of 1 of this series, and the Bulls went on to win in six games.
1990-91 Chicago Bulls
The Bulls recorded their first-ever NBA title as Michael Jordan led the way averaging 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.4 blocks to defeat the Showtime Lakers in five games.
1989-90 Detroit PIstons
For the first time since 1979, the NBA Finals did not include at least one of the Celtics or the Lakers. The Bad Boy Pistons faced Clyde Drexler and the Trail Blazers, winning in five games for their second straight championship.
1988-89 Detroit PIstons
The Lakers led entering the fourth quarter three times during this series but could never hold on as the Pistons swept them in four games.
1987-88 Los Angeles Lakers
This time, the Lakers got the best of the Pistons in a thrilling seven games series where the final two games were decided by a combined four points.
1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers
In a high-scoring series, the Lakers and the Celtics each broke the century in the first five games. Then Los Angeles held Boston to 93 points to win the series in Game 6.
1985-86 Boston Celtics
The Celtics captured their second title in three years, defeating the Rockets in six games. Larry Bird fell just shy of averaging a triple with 24 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.5 assists.
1984-85 Los Angeles Lakers
In a series that featured nine Hall of Fame players, the Lakers got revenge from one year earlier with a 4-2 victory against the Celtics.
1983-84 Boston Celtics
The Celtics came out on top in the first of three 1980s finals meetings with the Lakers. Larry Bird averaged 27.4 points and 14 rebounds, getting the best of Magic Johnson, who's Michigan State team got defeated Bird's Indiana State squad in the 1979 NCAA championship.
1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers
In a rematch of the 1982 finals, Moses Malone tore up the Lakers front line for 25.8 points and 18 rebounds per game as Philadelphia swept Los Angeles.
Who benefits the most from Green’s absence?
There’s no bigger beneficiary of Green’s absence than James, who must win three straight games to avoid falling to 2–5 in the Finals during his career. When facing elimination, James has averaged 32 PPG, 11 RPG and 7 APG in 15 playoff games, and the Warriors must now prepare for his “season on the line” fury without their proverbial “heart and soul” defender.
Look for James to enter all-out attack mode without Green roving as a second line of defense behind Iguodala. An aggressive approach would likely send James to the foul line more often, as Barnes and Golden State’s other smaller options don’t protect the basket as well as Green. There will also be extra pressure on Iguodala and Bogut to defend James without fouling him. In related news, Lue just received a $25,000 fine for working the officials on behalf of James. The cynical money is on James parading to the stripe in Game 5.
Kyrie Irving, too, should benefit from Green’s absence. If and when both teams go small, the lack of Green should make it easier for Irving, who struggled in the fourth quarter of Game 4, to finish around the basket. In fact, Kerr might find it preferable to stay big throughout much of Game 5, turning to the combination of Bogut and backup centers Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao to help protect the rim and clear the defensive glass in Green’s absence.
Lastly, Love, Tristan Thompson and perhaps even Channing Frye will be breathing a little bit easier without Green on the court. As mentioned above, Love could see a greater role given that he should theoretically win his matchup against any of Green’s replacements. Thompson, a voracious offensive rebounder, should have even more opportunities to extend possessions and find second-chance points without Green in the paint battling. Frye, meanwhile, has been used sparingly in this series but he could find more minutes if Kerr stays big, as the threat of his shooting could pull the Warriors’ bigs out of the paint.
How does this impact the Finals MVP race?
Through four games, the Finals MVP race has been wide open, with Green, Iguodala and Curry all having cases. Thanks to his strong Game 2 performance and consistent all-around impact throughout the series, Green might have even entered Game 5 as the favorite. Now, it’s difficult to envision voters rewarding him if the Warriors do close out their title on Monday night in his absence.
Curry, fresh off a 38-point performance in Game 4, will likely get the nod if he delivers a signature performance in Game 5. Even though he started slow in this series, his case would benefit from his star power, the fact that he “saved his best for last,” and the idea that he delivered for the Warriors in Green’s absence.
Iguodala, last year’s winner, looms as a quality backup option. If Golden State wins despite a so-so showing from Curry, Iguodala’s defense on James and his skills as a distributor could put him over the top.