The Golden State Warriors claimed a tight Game 1 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday 117-116 at FedExForum. The win marks the Warriors’ 1-0 lead in the Conference Semifinals over the Grizzlies.
However, Golden State was forced to play without star center Draymond Green who was ejected in the late second quarter after the player appeared to have pulled Memphis forward Brandon Clarke to the ground as he was going for the rim.
Green was called for a flagrant foul despite Golden State’s victory. Many have called the player’s move excessive and unnecessary after the 32-year-old seemed to have celebrated the event by giving his teammate a high-five, touting the hosting team’s fans for more chants and boos.
Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole leads Warriors to victory
Going into the second half without Green was slightly difficult for the Warriors with fellow teammates such as forward Klay Thompson calling the penalty “unfortunate” and Golden State felt different without the three-time NBA Champion.
“After review, the foul has been updated to a flagrant foul penalty two. Draymond Green has been ejected for the windup to the face, impact to the face, follow through with the jersey and the throw-down to the ground,” referee Kane Fitzgerald explained.
For head coach Steve Kerr, the game officials’ decision surprised him, adding via NBC Sports Bay Area, “were all angry. We thought it was a really tough call.” However, he added that the team will remain confident and determined onwards.
“We were just determined,” Kerr said. “We were all kind of shocked by the decision. But we were confident and determined, and the guys stayed with it.”
The parting of Green dealt a heavy blow to the Warriors in the second half as the aftermath of the game almost went sideways for Kerr and his men, finishing with only one point margin ahead of the Grizzlies.
Instead, Golden State’s double guards of Jordan Poole and Stephen Curry led the team hard on the offense in the second half to corner the hosting team. Having the former ranked a team-high of 31 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, Curry made 24 points, four assists and three rebounds.
“This is a huge game to win, especially with (Green) going out early,” Poole said. “You really have to find that grit and grind and buckle down and lock in offensively and defensively. He is such a big part of our team—We were able to fill in for the energy he has.”
Curry, voicing the same concerns hoped that Green received flagrant 1 instead.
“It’s a tough call, obviously, on the road, start of a series and you get a guy like Draymond headed to the locker room—nobody wants to see that. It’s not good for the game,” Curry added. “I didn’t think it deserved (an ejection), obviously.”
Green, Clarke’s arguments
Green revealed via his podcast post-game that it was more of a reputation for him instead of a hard foul.
“I think tonight it was probably a reputation thing more so than a hard foul,” the four-time NBA All-Star said.
However, for Clarke, he was not really shocked for Green’s antic, saying, “he’s been known for flagrant fouls in his career.” Then, added that he was hit by Green hard twice.
“I’ve watched him on TV my whole life, it feels like. I wasn’t really shocked. I don’t really like to flop or nothing, but he did hit me pretty hard twice when I saw it again—It is not shocking that he did that. Something he has done in the past.”
With Golden State leading the second-round game series over Memphis, the two are slated for Game 2 on Tuesday this week.