WASHINGTON — In the NBA these days, there is nothing closer to must-watch television than when the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers meet.
The previous two league champions who have met in the NBA Finals the past two seasons, the Warriors and Cavaliers are considered far and away the two best teams in basketball and are expected to again meet in the Finals this season. The first time the new-look Warriors — featuring Kevin Durant in place of Harrison Barnes — played the Cavaliers this season, on Christmas Day, the Warriors led for much of the game before the Cavs rallied for a one-point win. It was a game that more than lived up to the hype.
On Monday, the two teams ran it back in Oakland, and the outcome was considerably different this time. Golden State got off to another big lead, but the lead eventually became huge, and Cleveland never rallied. While there was very little drama in the game as far as the scoreboard was concerned, there was a bit more eyebrow-raising action on the court.
The sequence that grabbed the attention of the sports world was, not surprisingly, initiated and concluded by none other than Draymond Green.
Midway through the second period, Green, who has had several brushes with controversy, including one highly publicized clash with LeBron James during last year’s Finals, collided with James around midcourt. Green was running perpendicular to James, who was leading a fast break, and the Warriors forward appeared to go for a strip of the ball. Once he missed the ball, Green seemed to try to give a foul on James, and contacted was initiated.
James, quite blatantly, exaggerates the contact and sends himself flying to the floor, then gets up and rubs his chin suggesting he’d been hit above the neck, even though video shows that was not the case. James, of course, has a reputation of selling calls, to put it kindly.
Green therefore found it appropriate to reenact James’ sell-job after the play, which probably didn’t help his cause with the referees.
The internet did not rush to support James, to put it lightly.
And that’s barely scratching the surface of what was an onslaught of “flop” tweets following that play. The consensus was basically Green fouled James, but James sold the contact something awful. Purely from a strategy standpoint, it was a good one, as it pegged Green with a flagrant foul.
It also added additional logs to the already burning Green-James/Warriors-Cavs fire, not that it needed any. The Finals, assuming we are treated to a third consecutive matchup between these two teams, should be fun.