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The Biggest Flirt in the NBA

The way Draymond Green played in Game 2 of The Finals irked me.

There, I said it.

No long introduction, no lengthy prose to set up my opinion. Just getting down to the point. It REALLY frustrated me.

There will be those out there who accuse me of supporting the Celtics as I will likely cover off on, and agree with, multiple claims that Boston players made post-game. To them, I would like to point out that I said on record that I think the Warriors will win in 6 game. This is not a sore loser’s response. The way Draymond acted in multiple instances in Game 2, in my opinion, crossed the line, and the officiating crew in charge did nothing to contain him.

Sure, they called a technical foul on him in the first quarter, moments after barreling through Grant Williams, but let’s not get this confused. Draymond was issued a technical foul for his interactions with the official after the play, NOT for the actual act he committed. The act itself – that was assessed as a defensive foul on Williams – completely baffling when you look at a replay which clearly shows Williams as having long established position before Green refuses to take no for an answer and charges through him before the pair fall to the ground.

Green (white uniform, right) bulldozes his way through Grant WIlliams (green uniform, right) in the first quarter of Game 2. A defensive foul was called on Williams, while Green received a technical foul for arguing with the official.

Firstly, I cannot fathom how this was a defensive foul on Williams. I will accept that officials can make mistakes, and that is all I can put this down to – albeit one of the most egregious missed calls I’ve witness all season. In my mind, this should’ve been called not only an offensive foul on Green, but also a flagrant foul – penalty 1 at the very least in line with the NBA’s rules outlining unnecessary contact to a player with or without the ball.

In this case, the ball had barely crossed the half-court line, and while Green was seemingly making his way to set a screen for the ball-handler, there were so many ways he could’ve avoided the level of contact he had with Williams and actually set the screen we assume he was moving towards the ball-handler to set. Instead, he chooses the path that has him make contact with Williams – the definition of unnecessary in my mind.

I even believe there is an argument to be made that it should’ve been assessed as a flagrant foul – penalty 2, although I don’t believe this heightened penalty would’ve been appropriate in this circumstance. The argument, however, is that the contact was unnecessary AND excessive, which could be made when considering Green caused he and Williams to collapse to the ground.

Williams is not a pushover, proven by his tendency to guard players much taller and heavier than himself, so the fact he can establish legal guarding position and still be taken to the ground lends itself to the belief that the contact was indeed excessive. This, in addition to the previously determined unnecessary contact, meets the NBA’s criteria for a flagrant foul – penalty 2, which equates to immediate ejection from the game.

Green lays with his legs over Brown after fouling him on a shot attempt late in the first half of Game 2. Credit: Marca.

Fast-forward to late in the second quarter and with less than a minute left in the half, Green fouls Jaylen Brown on a three-point attempt. The actual foul on Brown’s shooting motion was clean, so to speak. No issues there. What occurs when the pair fall to the ground however, is that Green rests his feet on Brown’s body, to which Brown takes exception and pushes Green’s feet away. Green appears a combination of frustrated and insulted, and so pushes Brown in the back before the pair get to their feet, and are separated by Celtics teammates and official Zach Zarba.

On the call, Mark Jackson and Jeff van Gundy, though I’m not fond of the pair, correctly point out that during any regular season game, that would be assessed as a technical on both Brown and Green. If that same standard had been adhered to here, Green would’ve picked up his second technical and been ejected from the game.

I’m not here to argue that there shouldn’t be discretion allowed by officials when officiating a game in The Finals compared to a random Tuesday night in November, but the decision to not award a second technical to Green certainly frustrated me. As a fan of any sporting code, all you ever want from officials is consistency, and on this occasion I don’t believe we witnessed that based on previous incidents throughout the season. This outcome is typical of so many of the incidents Green is involved in too.

Green is confronted by the Celtics players after his altercation with Jaylen Brown in the second quarter. Credit: Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Draymond is smart about the way in which he approaches the game and the moments he chooses to flirt with taking things too far. He calculates when the risk is worth the reward, often sparking reactions from opposition players to help ignite the home crowd and his teammates. His intelligence comes to the fore in the way he engages in these acts, rarely doing anything which results in an outright ejection. Instead, Green plays right up to the line, constantly placing a limb or two over it, just to see how the officials and opposition react to him. It worked in Game 2, but eventually it will backfire.

I suspect that as the series goes forward, Green will continue to play in the same manner, and he WILL be ejected from at least one game due to his tendency to play right up to line. I suspect officials will tire of his antics and it will very much be a case of a straw breaking the camel’s back when he does eventually get sent back to the locker room. In that moment, he will have nobody to blame except himself, and his team might have to pay the ultimate price without him on the floor.

Sport, first and foremost, is entertainment. Like all good entertainment, it needs a hero and a villain for people to align themselves towards to support and cheer against, and Green plays the villain role better than nearly any other in the association. Usually I’m quite philosophical about the game and the narratives that unfold within it, however I can’t help but be drawn to pointing out the perceived injustices of Game 2 and the special treatment Green received because of his reputation and the stage he's performing on.

I’m really, really against Draymond Green as a player. He’s irritating, he plays in a way which, in my mind, crosses the line physically, and he’s treated differently to others, given leeway in circumstances where most are not afforded it. Green has gotten under my skin so much in just one game.

It’s painful to admit too, because that's exactly what he wants to achieve every time he steps on the court.

Draymond Green has gotten under my skin, exactly what he wants. Credit: Stadium Astro.

So, what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up? Let me know on twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send us an email at!

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