The NBA suspended Golden State’s Draymond Green for one game without pay on Tuesday, one day after he stepped on the chest of a Sacramento Kings player who grabbed his leg while lying on the court during a game. The situation once again calls into question Green’s judgment and it further jeopardizes Golden State’s thinning chances of winning its first-round playoff series against the Kings.
The Warriors trail in the series, 2-0, and Green will miss Game 3 at Chase Center in San Francisco on Thursday. The NBA said Green’s suspension was “based in part on Green’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.” Less than 10 percent of teams that fall to 2-0 in a seven-game series go on to win, according to Land of Basketball.
The incident — which many people have characterized as a stomp — happened with just over seven minutes left in Game 2 in Sacramento and Golden State down by 4 points. Kings center Domantas Sabonis had fallen to the ground against Green’s legs in the scramble for a rebound . Sabonis grabbed Green around the ankle, and Green stepped on his chest as he moved over and then past him to run up the court. Sabonis wrote on the court (but was able to finish the game), and Green was called for a flagrant -2 foul and ejected. Sabonis was called for a technical foul.
The Kings later said that Sabonis’ availability would be listed as questionable for Game 3 after X-rays showed that he had a sternum contusion.
With NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in the stands, Green egged on the jeering crowd by raising his arms, yelling at Kings fans who were heckling him, and cupping his hand to his ear. Golden State pulled to within 1 point after Green’s ejection but lost, 114-106. In a postgame news conference, Green said another player had also grabbed his leg during Game 1.
Game 3 is critical for Golden State, not just because it is behind in the series but because its home arena has provided its best setting for wins this season. The Warriors had a 33-8 record at home during the regular season, but won just 11 of their 41 road games. As the lower seed in this series, at No. 6, Golden State will have to win at least once in Sacramento to advance. Green is the team’s best defender, and his chemistry with guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson has fueled their four championships together.
But the intensity that makes Green a fearsome defender has also been channeled in ways that have hurt his team. Most notably, in the 2016 NBA finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Green was automatically suspended for Game 5 after he accumulated too many flagnical points for technical and flagrant fouls. The game without Green, which Golden State lost, was widely seen as a turning point in the series, which Golden State lost after leading, 3-1.
The Warriors came into this season with hopes of defending their championship win against the Boston Celtics last June. But it has been a rocky year: Before the season started, Green punched a teammate, guard Jordan Poole, in the face during a private practice. Golden State decided not to suspend Green, but he spent some time away from the team and players have acknowledged that the incident affected them. Green apologized and said he was working on handling his emotions better.