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Warriors' emotional barometer starts with Green

With suspension averted, All Star must get back into gear if franchise wants to avoid 3-1 deficit to Thunder

POSTED: May 24, 2016 4:09 PM ET

By Fran Blinebury

BY Fran Blinebury


Warriors Talk: Draymond Green

On Monday, Draymond Green addressed the incident that led to his flagrant foul during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

— Loose balls, jump balls, air balls, 50-50 balls.

A lot of times we're told it's just how the ball bounces that can make a difference in a game and even a playoff series.

Or in the case of Steven Adams, how they can bring a big man to his knees.

For the second time in two games Kid Kiwi of the Thunder took a shot Down Under from Golden State's Draymond Green and so the Western Conference finals center of attention turned to cringe-inducing video replays and titters.

After a day-long review and lobbying by Green and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who wanted it rescinded because they claimed that the foot to the groin was unintentional, the NBA upgraded the penalty to a Flagrant Foul 2 and also fined Green $25,000. But he will play in Tuesday's Game 4 (9 PM EST, TNT) as the Warriors trail 2-1 in the series and try to rebound from the embarrassing 133-105 defeat.

Even avoiding suspension this time, Green has walked up to the edge of another problem. Monday's decision means he has three flagrant-foul points in the playoffs and reaching four brings an automatic one-game suspension.

It happens with large bodies in close proximity pursuing the basketball.

Denver Nuggets rookie Francisco Elson objected to a shot in the groin area from superstar Kevin Garnett in 2004. Reggie Evans, then playing for the Nuggets in 2006, famously grabbed center Chris Kaman of the Clippers from behind.

Kerr also brought up another incident from that involved OKC's very own Serge Ibaka that did not result in a suspension.

"I was doing TV two years ago when Serge clocked Blake Griffin on an offensive rebound," Kerr said. "He just punched him. There was frustration and those two have gotten into over the years, I know. It's a competitive game -- guys are talking trash out there.

"You know, it's high-level intensity. There's frustration. Like I said, there's also a lot of flailing. A lot of flopping. This league is rampant with flailing with arms and legs trying to draw fouls. Every game you watch, guys are doing that. And sometimes that can lead to contact. It's all part of it."

Green then pushed back at the charge from Russell Westbrook of the Thunder that it was an intentional kick that placed his right foot in Adams' crotch and the truth is that none of that matters at all.

What does matter now is the Warriors enter Game 4 facing the greatest obstacle in their 18-month reign as the Cutest Little Basketball Team That Ever Swallowed the Planet.

"They're the most talented team that we've faced over the last couple of years, for sure," Kerr said. "Our outlook is we're down 2-1, and we need to win a game on the road. "If we do that, we'll be in pretty good shape."

The fact is this Golden State lineup with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson firing up 3-pointers from anyplace in the arena does not make the Thunder weak in the knees and tremble. Not when they have their own otherworldly talents Westbrook and Kevin Durant able to take over and dominate.

"It feels the same," said Curry. "It's a Game 4 (and) we've got to win."

Green has always been that bolt of lightning in the lineup that can strike powerfully and ferociously to help obliterate an opponent. He can use the anger of being overlooked by college recruiters and NBA draft experts that left him languishing until the second round and can recite the names of all 34 players chosen ahead of him to pour gasoline on his own fire.

Yet there is always the chance Green will one day burn down the house. There are more than a handful of folks inside the league that will tell you what precludes a long-running Warrior dynasty is his volatile personality that can take his emotions and his play on a far walk up and around the bend. It's a routine that will get old and played-out, they say. He'll tell you he thrives on playing the role of the villain, especially in road games.

But after all the hullaballoo in the second quarter of Game 3, the Warriors were down by just 50-42 and Green was the one who looked like he'd been kicked. He played the rest of the way disengaged and distant. He shot just 1-for-9 from the field, missing his last eight shots, grabbed only four rebounds, committed four turnovers and his defensive effort barely had a pulse. Green's plus-minus rating for the game was -43, which is normally only a good day if you're a penguin in Antarctica.

For all that the two-time MVP Curry does, Green is the defibrillator that jump-starts the Warriors. His loud, profane halftime rant during Golden State's last trip to OKC back in February prodded the Warriors to an overtime win long before Curry's dazzlingly cavalier 37-foot buzzer-beater ended it.

"He needs to refocus a little bit," Kerr said. "He'll admit it. It was not one of his best games. In fact, it was one of his worst. But the great thing with Draymond is he always turns it around. He's one of the great competitors that we have in the league, that we have on our team, and when things aren't looking great, he usually plays his best."

Now it's how Green and the ball will have to bounce for the champs to survive.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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