OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Suspended Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green planned to watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night in a baseball suite next door to Oracle Arena at the Oakland Coliseum, where the Athletics are playing the Texas Rangers.
The Warriors said Green changed his mind several times Monday morning before deciding on a plan. The A’s even extended Green an invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, but he declined.
“He would like to keep a low profile,” A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker said.
The defending champion Warriors held a 3-1 lead against LeBron James and Cleveland in their best-of-seven series and were trying to close out a second straight title against the Cavaliers – this time in front of their raucous home fans.
“It’s another test,” guard Shaun Livingston said of playing without emotional leader Green. “We’ve went through a lot of tests this year. It’s kind of the ultimate being in the position that we’re in, so it’s a great opportunity for a lot of guys and for our team and coaches. … It’s a cohesion thing throughout the whole team. We rely on our chemistry, we rely on each other, we play for each other. One guy is not just going to make up what Draymond brings to the table. It’s all the little things he does that wins championships.”
Green was suspended by the NBA on Sunday for a fourth-quarter scuffle with James in Game 4, during which the league said Green “made unnecessary contact with a retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin” of James. Green was issued a retroactive Flagrant-1 foul for his fourth flagrant point of the postseason, drawing an automatic suspension.
James said Green’s trash talk also went “a little bit outside of basketball.”
After Monday’s game, Green will be allowed to enter Oracle Arena to either celebrate with his teammates or prepare for a trip to Ohio for Game 6. Hallways connect the side-by-side venues, providing Green an ideal option to stay close by.
Smiling and being playful, Green was his upbeat, high-energy self – or at least appeared so – during a shootaround Monday morning at the team’s downtown practice facility. He pulled off a set of pushups between taking shots, let out a loud “Ahhhhh!” for all to hear and animatedly pointed his right arm in the direction of center Andrew Bogut before disappearing as the Warriors wrapped up their day-of-game preparations.
While coach Steve Kerr has advised all of his players to stay ready because there might be some varying lineups and rotations, Livingston said Green hadn’t addressed the team. There’s a lot of production to make up for without Green’s postseason 15.3 points, team-high 9.6 rebounds and six assists – not to mention his defense.
“It’s tough. He’s in a different position now,” Livingston said. “Usually he’s able to be vocal and then go out and then go out and set the example. Now with him not playing, it’s kind of speaking from a different position. Steve has been great kind of feeding us what we need. I don’t think we should need any extra motivation tonight.”