(Reuters) – With the Golden State Warriors a victory away from winning a second straight NBA Championship over the Cleveland Cavaliers, tension between the teams hit fever pitch on Sunday on the eve of Game Five over the Draymond Green suspension for his flagrant fouls.
The Warriors’ Green was suspended for Game Five in Oakland on Monday because of the flagrant 1 foul he was called for in an incident with Cleveland’s LeBron James in Game Four on Friday. The incident gave Green his fourth flagrant foul point of the playoffs, which carries a one-game suspension.
Golden State guard Klay Thompson, whose team leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, was asked to respond to James’ postgame remarks on Friday that Green had crossed the line with his in-game trash talk.
“Obviously people have feelings and people’s feelings get hurt even if they’re called a bad word,” Thompson said.
“I guess his feelings just got hurt. We’ve all been called plenty of bad words on the basketball court before. Some guys just react to it differently.”
James was asked to respond to Thompson’s remarks.
“Oh, my goodness,” James said. “I’m not going to comment on what Klay said, because I know where it can go from this sit-in. It’s so hard to take the high road.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to go out and show up and play better tomorrow night, and if we don’t, then they’re going to be back-to-back champion, and that’s it.”
James has taken plenty of criticism not only for the way he has played in the NBA Finals, but for stepping over Green in the fourth-quarter incident that resulted in Green’s suspension that came down on Sunday.
James received a technical foul for his part in the incident. He was asked if stepping over Green was a sign of disrespect for his opponent. “I was just trying to get back into the play,” James said.
The Warriors have won six of seven games since they fell behind 3-1 in the Western Conference final with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But how will they perform without Green?
“You see every game what he brings, the energy, the defensive presence,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and he’s a proven All-Star.
“We’re going to have to have somebody step up and do it by committee to replace that effort.”
(Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both)