With the Warriors leading the series 3-1, Green found himself suspended for Game 5 after he and LeBron James got into an altercation during Game 4.
Prior to the altercation, Green already had three flagrant foul points in the 2016 postseason, and the Game 4 incident gave him a fourth, triggering an automatic suspension.
According to 2016 champ Channing Frye, the Cavs were entirely aware of Green’s situation when he had three flagrant foul points, and they were trying to bait him into a suspension.
Were the Cavaliers trying to bait Draymond Green into getting suspended from the 2016 NBA Finals?
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 24, 2023
The sequence that ultimately led to Green’s suspension came with just a few minutes remaining in Game 4.
The Cavs may have lost Game 4, but they walked away with something that ended up being more important — a suspension to one of Golden State’s most irreplaceable players.
With Green suspended, the Cavs won Game 5 on the road, sending the series back to Cleveland with the Warriors leading 3-2. James and company were able to take care of business at home in Game 6, evening the series at 3-3. With everything on the line in Game 7, the Cavs stole an NBA title from the Warriors on Golden State’s home court.
Green has said that he believes James coaxed him into the altercation. Frye’s recent comments may back that up. Ultimately, the Cavs won the series by any means necessary, even if it meant finding unconventional ways to gain advantages.
Green certainly did his best to make up for his suspension, as he had one of the best games of his NBA career in Game 7. He dropped 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists in very efficient fashion. Had the Warriors won Game 7, he may have even been named Finals MVP. But they didn’t, and he wasn’t.
Instead, the honor went to James, who delivered on his promise to bring a title to the team that drafted him. The Cavs may very well win more NBA titles eventually, but the magic of their 2016 championship might never be topped.