The best thing that happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers was the suspension of Draymond Green. The league assessed Green a flagrant foul for a retaliatory response to LeBron James, who pushed Green and then stepped over him. Green has passed the allotted number of flagrant fouls and was suspended, after accumulating four flagrant foul points.
Green’s swipe to the groin of James was the latest Draymond Green crossing the line fracas to happen in the playoffs. Twice, he had issues with Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder and it attached to Green a reputation of impulsive, overeager, dirty and hyper-emotional.
Green, a passionate player whose game is supported by excitability, is the driving force behind the Warriors. He is averaging nearly 15 points and 9 rebounds in the Finals. His leadership is off the chain except when he goes too far. Knowing he had no rope left, he needed to be smarter so the Warriors wouldn’t have to face this circumstance, ready to win a second title but without Draymond Green moving the ball, guarding LeBron James, grabbing rebounds and creating all kinds of havoc.
It’s all good for the Cavaliers. One of the Warriors most important players is out.
More than likely Andre Iguodala will replace Green. Iggy is a solid rebounder and scorer and can defend anyone. His quick hands create turnovers and fast break opportunities and he is often left open on the break to drain threes A great Iggy performance on Monday night will put another Finals MVP on his mantle.
But Iguodala is going to have to deal with the Cavs front court. The quickness of Tristan Thompson plus the perimeter skill of Kevin Love will test Iguodala.
With Draymond out, the Cavs have the advantage on paper. Except Kevin Love has yet to prove he can dominate in the Finals and his defense is below average. Still, the Cavs have more of an opportunity at a second Finals victory than they did before the Green suspension.
Or, maybe not.
When a player is out the lineup, the troops pull inward. For a myriad of reasons, there is a psychological edge to an incomplete team. Equal parts wounded and bitter by a decision they could not contol, the Warriors, who feel they were wronged, are a team with a cause. The focus and intensity will exponentially rise.
Steph Curry shrugs it off.
“It hasn’t been that much of a distraction for us with Draymond’s situation. It’s unfortunate that two situations have made people judge his character and intent. It sucks that he’s not going to be out on the floor with us.”
The Cavs have to take advantage of Green’s absence; nothing new there. That this is an elimination game only ramps up the pressure. The Cavs problem is standing around, a lack of ball movement, iso play and an over reliance on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
James has had a mediocre series. He played soft in the 4th quarter of a must win Game 4 and he will probably come out guns blazing in front of the hostile Oracle crowd who blame him for Green’s absence.
If the Cavs lose to a Draymond Green-less Warriors team, there will be more than soul searching in Cleveland. They will believe they really are cursed.
photo via llananba