Warriors in familiar position, but against a different beast
OKLAHOMA CITY — This might be the first documented case where somebody kicked someone else in the manhood, and the kicker collapsed harder than the victim.
This isn’t meant to make light of Draymond Green’s curious foot placement on the body of Steven Adams, but an attempt to explain what happened next, how Green and the Golden State Warriors wound up wearing the ice bag and wincing. Through three games of the Western Conference finals, the Warriors are down 2-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and fresh off a Game 3 beatdown, are facing their most serious challenge since becoming a superteam a little more than a year ago.
There’s certainly no reason for them to panic, or to overstate a 28-point loss. It is, however, time for them and everyone to concede the obvious: this Oklahoma City team and this series is unlike anything the Warriors have seen before.
The record will show the Warriors trailed 2-1 twice in the 2015 playoffs, to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals and the Cleveland Cavaliers in The Finals. Each time the Warriors responded emphatically, and both on the road. They won by 17 in Memphis and 21 in Cleveland and once order was swiftly restored, the Warriors went about the business of being champions.
But these aren’t the scoring-challenged Grizzlies or the injury-ravaged Cavs. These are the Thunder, healthy and loaded, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook locked in. Finally, the Warriors are being confronted by a threat without asterisks, an opponent on or close to their level.
And what do we make of the Warriors at this point? It’ll be up to the NBA police to determine if Green’s kick was malicious enough to warrant a one-game suspension. After having the ball stripped from him during a jump shot against Adams, Green’s right foot caught Adams flush during the follow through.
That will be tricky for the league. How can you know for sure about intent? Without that, it would be a reach if the NBA punishes Green and therefore affects a playoff series, even though Cleveland’s Dahntay Jones was just hit with a suspension for a similar crime, and even if this was the second time in as many games where Green connected with Adams’ groin.