For people who enjoy watching nard-kicker and general loudmouth Draymond Green suck and fail, the 2019 NBA Finals provided few moments of satisfaction. He was mostly brilliant in the series, and made a couple of the best plays in Golden State’s Game 5 road win to push the series back to Oakland. After the Warriors lost Game 6 and the Finals, the internet kicked off a parade of one-liners, GIFs, and Chris Webber references just for Green for his part in the final meaningful sequence. He doesn’t deserve them!
The Warriors were down a point following a bad Raptors turnover, with just under 10 seconds on the clock. Head coach Steve Kerr drew up a lovely after-timeout play that had Andre Iguodala inbounding the ball to the weakside corner, where Green hauled it in and pitched it to Stephen Curry, rocketing around a DeMarcus Cousins flare screen toward the wing. The play gave Curry about as much shooting space as he’d had all series when Fred VanVleet was his primary defender, and certainly as much as he needs to bomb away. Curry missed the shot, the ball caromed back toward mid-court, and by the time Green tracked down the rebound, there was less than one second on the game clock. Here’s the sequence:
Green, Kerr, Andre Iguodala, and Quinn Cook all signaled for a timeout Golden State didn’t have, and as a result the Warriors were hit with a technical foul, with 0.9 seconds on the clock. The game was functionally over, but Kawhi Leonard’s resulting free throw and the Raptors taking over possession allowed the Raptors to pad out their lead a little. The NBA’s play-by-play doesn’t specify who exactly received the tech, but it doesn’t much matter-Draymond was the player who had the ball, and Draymond was the player who fans wanted to trash for the mistake.
Fine. Fire away! But before you do, know that the technical foul that stopped the clock with 0.9 seconds left in the game was the only chance the Warriors had at extending the game and series. If Green hadn’t forced a stoppage at that exact moment, the Warriors’ chances would’ve dropped to zero, because the game would’ve been over. The ball was bouncing away from their basket, and grabbing it meant going to the floor, leaving no chance at throwing up a shot of any kind. Stopping the clock was the only way the Warriors could even hope to keep alive the slimmest of vanishing chances at a miracle comeback. The Raptors’ Danny Green had botched a pass moments earlier, and Toronto very well could have botched the inbounds play.
The image of Green frantically signaling for a timeout his team doesn’t have, and the Raptors padding their lead as a result, is certainly one to hold on to and cherish, as a symbol of the final futility of Golden State’s efforts in this series. Here were the Warriors failing and handing the opponent an extra point plus possession. But you should be aware-and it truly pains me to say this-that Draymond Green was smart to earn this technical foul.