By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Draymond Green already dodged one bullet this postseason when he was not suspended for kicking the groin of Steven Adams in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The All-Star forward did not get as lucky the second time around when taking a swipe at the groin of LeBron James in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
The NBA assessed Green with a flagrant one foul (equal to one flagrant point) on Sunday, bringing his flagrant point total for the playoffs up to four overall. That number automatically triggered a one-game suspension for the 6-foot-7 forward, who will miss Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Monday night.
On the surface, it seems a bit unjust that the 26-year-old forward will be sitting out such a big game for what was arguably an inadvertent swipe at LeBron below the belt. With that said, Green knew he was on thin ice with the league after the Adams episode and the NBA had an ideal opportunity to make Green pay for a pattern of dangerous play this postseason. Let's take a look at what helped create the perfect storm for Green's Game 5 suspension.
1. Some wise provoking by LeBron
Green isn't a dirty player, but he's got a habit of living on the edge with his on-court behavior and trash talking. While he isn't Kevin Garnett on the court, he shares the same kind of intensity as the future Hall of Famer and that was highlighted in Game 4's episode with LeBron. While James was clearly being disrespectful by stepping over Green while he was lying on the floor, James smartly was doing his best to provoke a player with a track record of fighting back. After throwing Michael Beasley to the ground in Round 1 (earning a flagrant one) and being (rightfully) assessed a flagrant 2 for his (accidental?) low blow of Steven Adams, Green's margin for error was gone with the league office when it came to "accidental" contact.
2. A chance to give a series new life
To most observers, the Warriors effectively ended the series with a win in Game 4, putting them up 3-1 over the Cavs with a Game 5 looming back home in Oakland. Green's transgression gave the league the opportunity to change that perception. Would the hybrid forward been assessed a flagrant one if the series was 2-2 at this juncture? It's impossible to say for sure, but you can bet the NBA decision makers can sleep easier tonight knowing that Green's suspension won't be able to swing a series on its own. The Warriors can win without him, and if they don't, they'll have two more chances to close things out at full strength. Meanwhile, the Cavs get a sharp boost in their odds of extending the series.
3. Green messed with the wrong guy
For better or worse, James is still one of the faces of the NBA. When Green decided to give James a love tap on Friday night, he had to know how much scrutiny was going to be placed on a confrontation like that. You aren't dealing with Steven Adams or Michael Beasley here, making it tougher for the league to let such a move slide. Combine that reality with LeBron and Ty Lue complaining about officiating in Game 4 overall and you can only imagine the kind of firestorm that would have been coming out of Cleveland if Green wasn't assessed a flagrant foul after the fact. With Green's secondary arm swipe towards James after the fact showing some intent, the Warriors' do-it-all forward didn't have much of a defense to lean on here in the first place. Going after LeBron was just the nail in the coffin.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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