The Golden State Warriors have dodged a bullet.
Star forward Draymond Green will take the floor for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday, despite rampant speculation that he would face suspension after kicking the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Steven Adams below the belt in the second quarter of Sunday’s matchup -- the second time in two games that Green struck Adams in the groin.
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Monday that the NBA had opted against suspending the Warriors' defensive anchor. He will instead be fined $25,000, and his foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 2, the league announced on Twitter.
“After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green’s foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine,” Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement.
“During a game, players -- at times -- flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul,” VanDeWeghe added. "But Green’s actions in this case warranted an additional penalty.”
Green -- one of the NBA’s most valuable players and the key to much of the Warriors’ success this year -- refused to admit wrongdoing after Game 3, claiming that the kick was merely part of his follow-through.
Many had speculated that the league would have no choice but to suspend Green after handing the Cleveland Cavaliers' Dahntay Jones a one-game suspension hours for kicking Toronto Raptor Bismack Biyombo in the groin in the final moments of Saturday’s contest, just one day before Green's kick.
The outcome may be just the stroke of good luck needed by the Warriors, down 2-1 in the conference finals with their backs against the wall. Of course, many NBA conspiracy theorists will inevitably see it as much more than that.
On to Game 4.