Draymond Green

Opinion: Andrew Bogut's injury in the 2016 NBA Finals cost the Warriors, NOT Draymond Green's suspension

  • Draymond isn't the one to be blamed for the Warriors choking a 3-1 lead!
Carlos Lopez

To this day, Draymond Green's suspension in Game 5 is the reason cited by the Warriors fans for their team losing the 2016 NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was not Draymond's fault, it was the loss of Andrew Bogut that weakened the Warriors' defense. The Warriors became the first team ever to blow a 3-1 series lead in an NBA Finals series.

Things have gone well for Draymond and the Warriors since the record-setting 73-win regular season. The Warriors acquired Kevin Durant soon after, and have won back to back NBA titles.

The overlooked factor

Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals because of flagrant foul accumulation. In the Warriors' Game 4 win, Draymond Green got caught in a scuffle with LeBron James.

Draymond fell and LeBron tried to step over him, and then Draymond retaliated by taking swipes to LeBron's groin. It was called a double foul initially, but it was upgraded to a flagrant foul for Green. Four flagrant foul points triggers a suspension. Draymond already had three of those prior to Game 4.

To this day, many say "Draymond Green cost the Warriors a championship". That's wrong, to say the least. At half-time in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the game was tied. A minute into the 3rd quarter, Andrew Bogut suffered bone bruises in his left knee, forcing him to miss the rest of the series. Bogut was, in essence, the Roy Hibbert for the Warriors. Before Andrew Bogut's injury, the Cavaliers averaged 95.8 points per game. After Andrew Bogut's injury, the Cavaliers averaged 106.7 points per game.

One could argue the Cavaliers stepped up their game. No, Bogut's presence in the paint was the hurdle for LeBron and Kyrie, forcing them to settle for jumpers. In the first four games of the series, LeBron averaged 24.8 points per game and Kyrie averaged 25 points per game. In games 5, 6, and 7, LeBron averaged 36.6 points per game while Kyrie averaged 30.3 points per game.

Draymond Green played in Games 6 and 7, and the Warriors still lost. Green is an undersized forward, and could not stop LeBron and Kyrie from getting into the paint in Games 6 and 7. There was no hurdle to overcome for James and Irving.

If it were as simple as Cleveland needing to step up their game, the Warriors would've never had a 3-1 series lead. A team does not step up their game due to an injury on the opposing team. They take advantage of the situation which is what the Cavaliers did. It's naive to say Bogut's injury had no impact on the Warriors' defense.

Published 30 May 2019, 18:19 IST
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