The Warriors Are Stumbling to the Floor in Their Last Dance

The Kings are dominating the Dubs in what's likely the last playoff run for Golden State's "Big Three" core

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors complains about a play during Game Two of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on April 17, 2023 in Sacramento, California.
Steph Curry deserves better than this.
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

At the halfway point of the 2022-23 NBA regular season, Draymond Green, the four-time champion power forward of the Golden State Warriors, part of the team’s all-time-great “Big Three” core of himself, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, said his time in the Bay Area appeared to be coming to an end. “The writing is on the wall,” said Green, which seemed to mean that he would decline his player option this offseason, become a free agent and not be re-signed by a cash-strapped Warriors franchise.

Instead of using those six words, Green could’ve employed a different half-dozen and, using the parlance of his time, said, “This is Golden State’s ‘last dance.’” Unfortunately for the Dubs, in the first round of what is likely the Big Three’s final playoff push together, they’re not moonwalking toward a fifth title, as they and many others believed they could. Instead, they’re stumbling to floor.

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Last night, the Warriors lost a second consecutive game to open the playoffs and have quickly found themselves in an 0-2 hole. About 93% of the time, a team facing such a deficit in the NBA playoffs goes on to lose the series. If that news wasn’t bad enough for the Warriors, there’s a chance they’re going to have to start climbing their way out of that hole without Draymond Green, who had a conniption on the floor last night, got himself ejected and may face a suspension.

After a collective fight for a rebound halfway through the fourth quarter, the bodies of Green and Sacramento Kings power forward Domantas Sabonis were tangled together. Down on his back after a fall, Sabonis grabbed Green’s right leg. Displeased, Green lifted his leg up and stomped his foot down into Sabonis’s stomach. Writhing in pain on the floor for a few moments, Sabonis earned a technical foul for the grab. Green was booked with a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected. On his way to the locker room, he taunted fans and goaded them into increasingly virulent jeers.

I have to do good, down-the-middle journalism here and say Sabonis was very much in the wrong for hugging Green’s leg while Green tried to get back on defense. We’ve seen time and time again in sports that serious leg injuries can be caused by what appear to be fairly innocent twists of the joints. Green himself said after the game that he was angry — and rightfully so — because it was the second time in the series that a Kings player committed such an act against him.

Here’s the big “BUT,” though. Green’s Warriors were only down four points in the game, and a road victory at this point in the series would have swung home-court advantage their way. A cooler head could’ve stayed on the floor and helped his team win. Of course, that’s not Green’s style.

He’s been suspended multiple times for violent behavior. The league suspended him during the 2016 NBA Finals — the one in which Golden State blew a 3-1 series lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers — after hitting LeBron James in the groin area, ironically after James stepped over a laid-out Green.

Green has also been suspended twice by his own team for aggression toward teammates, including punching Jordan Poole in practice this past preseason.

After last night’s game, Kings coach Mike Brown said the incident was worthy of a Flagrant 2 for Green, adding, “It’ll be interesting to see what the NBA does when they review it.” Per The Athletic, with the foul on Sabonis, Green is halfway to the four playoff flagrant foul points he’ll need to earn a one-game suspension. The NBA can go ahead and suspend him for the act alone if the league believes he violated player conduct standards. However, it’s worth noting that when Green was suspended in 2016, it was technically not because he struck James in his holy region, but because he’d earned a fourth playoff flagrant foul point.

If the Warriors are ousted in this postseason’s first round, in part because Green once again couldn’t control his temper, and at the hands of the Kings, the league’s poster team for futility the past couple decades (well, them and the Knicks, though at least the Kings are in a small market), it would make for an embarrassing end to their Big Three’s era of dominance. Think about this: As good as the Miami Heat’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were, they won half as many championships as their Warriors’ counterparts have. Furthermore, the Warriors just won the league’s championship one year ago. When they did, CBS Sports noted the team was so successful because of its three “selfless stars.”

A mighty selfish act may have just begun the closing number of a swiftly concluding Warriors last dance.

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