BOSTON – Draymond Green’s one-game suspension for connecting with a shot near LeBron James’ groin region will make Green a mere spectator in the biggest game of the Golden State Warrior’s season.
It was yet another moment in which one of the league’s most talented players (Green) was in a highly emotional state and those emotions, the same ones that have helped him become one of the better all-around players in the NBA, got the best of him.
Green’s one-game suspension should serve as a cautionary tale for all talented players whose emotions drive them to be their best; players like Boston’s Marcus Smart.
He too has had incidents that came about because of the emotional edge that he plays with, being taken a step or two too far.
Remember back in March of 2015 when Smart hit Granite state native/San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner in the groin area? Smart was whistled for a flagrant-2 foul on the play which was an automatic ejection, in addition to being suspended for one game.
As a coach, as an organization, it’s an extremely difficult line to walk with players like Green and Smart.
You know the very same emotions that lead to technical fouls and in Green’s most recent instance a one-game suspension, are the same emotions that are central to that player’s success and with that, the team’s success as well.
Smart’s emotions have not been an issue in the biggest games of the season for the Celtics, but he has lost his cool enough to where officials are certainly on alert.
And while his impact on the Celtics isn’t at the same level as Green is to the Warriors, there’s no mistaking that part of why Boston exceeded the expectations of so many this season was because of the growth in Smart’s game this past season.
He had his shooting struggles for longer stretches than he or the Celtics would have liked to have seen, but his steady play defensively was a key to Boston winning 48 games – the most under third-year coach Brad Stevens.
And while Avery Bradley earned a spot on the NBA’s Defensive First team, one of the reasons for that was because he didn’t have to guard the best perimeter player on the opposing team all game.
He had Smart to help with that challenge.
And one of the ways Smart helps the Celtics is in his ability to elevate the emotional state of his teammates because he’s always playing at a high level emotionally.
But as we’ve seen with Green, there’s a downside to players who’s DNA is strongly bond by emotion.
It can catapult you to victory one night, and be catastrophic another.
But teams with such players will tell you that’s the price you have to pay as an organization with players like that.
As disappointed as the Warriors may be in not having Green available, you can bet they wouldn’t change a thing about how he plays the game.
And while the Celtics have had a few head-scratching moments with Smart, you can rest assured they are just as supportive.
Emotionally-charged play can take you far in the NBA.
But like any strength, there is such a thing as moderation.
And while Green’s shot to James’ groin region wasn’t enough of an issue to warrant a one-game suspension, he was punished so harshly because it was a pattern he has displayed repeatedly throughout the playoffs.
Only time will tell if the price he has to pay (missing a series-clinching game at home on Monday) proves costly to the Warriors.
But the fact that he’s not going to play serves as a reminder of how you can be too emotional and it can hurt your team, a lesson the Boston Celtics certainly hope their emotional sparkplug, Marcus Smart, knows going forward.