Midway through the second quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, Draymond Green drove to his right against Steven Adams, flipped up a shot and drew a whistle. Unfortunately for Green, he received a flagrant foul on the play.
That’s because he kicked Adams in the groin.
Green said it was unintentional. The replays might have something to say about that. So might the NBA.
“Well, I think one of our (beat writers), Anthony Slater, used the term politicking – and I think there’s some truth in that,” Daily Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think there will be another one, some politicking going on, by players and coaches. The Thunder are saying of course we think it’s intentional. And you know what? The same guy against the same guy, hitting him in the same area two straight games kind of lends credence to the idea that it could have been intentional. Draymond Green (said) after the game (that he) was just following a shot and that’s just the action you have when you’re trying to sort of sell it.
“So obviously the league is going to have to look at it,” Carlson continued. “But I can’t imagine that what happened in Game 2 with the knee, which, just looking at it, felt a little more in the course of action, whereas tonight looked a little different. And you also have the issue of the league suspending Dahntay Jones of Cleveland for his shot to (Bismack) Biyombo, to his groin. So I don’t know if that sets any precedent, or if it’s the Warriors and they say we can’t suspend this guy. I don’t know. It’s going to be a tough call by the league.”
After the play, the Thunder went on a 24-7 run to close the half. They led 72-47 at halftime, 117-80 after the third quarter and won 133-105 to take a 2-1 series lead.
“I think the Thunder handled it well in the game,” Carlson said. “That’s the thing that I think was particularly interesting. No retaliation, they seemed to get even more locked in and more focused and just really hit the accelerator, just really kind of cruised from there. It turned the tide but kind of in an interesting way, I think, for the Thunder as they locked in even more after that happened.”
Adams, to his credit, has become a bit of a cult hero for Thunder fans. He has six double-double in the playoffs and has come within one point of two others. He’s also played tough, relentless, physical defense, sometimes for 40+ minutes a night.
“He’s been playing well all year, but clearly in the playoffs he’s just hit the accelerator,” Carlson said. “He just delivers punishment on so many guys. A couple years ago, he gets punched essentially in the Memphis series and really kind of turned that series with a suspension on Zach Randolph, and he just kind of shrugged it off and went about his business. I think just the way he handles the physicality of things, you really can’t help but appreciate the guy – just how tough he is, how physical he is. Obviously the playoffs are so much about physicality – not just the rough stuff, (but) now you’re starting to see big scoring games, big rebounding games. The production that he has has really skyrocketed.”
Adams’ individual battles with Green have only accentuated his value. Green scored six points on 1-of-9 shooting in Game 3. He also had four turnovers and finished with a game-worst minus-43.
Adams had something to do with that.
“The applause he got when they introduced the starting lineups are starting to rival Westbrook and Durant,” Carlson said. “People love the guy – and it’s only going to group after what we saw tonight.”