As Caris LeVert charged down the floor for a Cleveland fast-break layup, Draymond Green gave Donovan Mitchell a shoulder bump. Mitchell went stumbling out of bounds, while Green quickly brought the ball back up the floor for the Warriors.
Rather than getting back on defense, Mitchell made a beeline straight toward Green and pushed back, inciting a borderline scuffle around halfcourt. Green yelled and egged on the crowd, in his usual fashion, while the refs took to the monitor to decipher what exactly happened.
The expectation on the Golden State broadcast was a technical foul for Mitchell and a couple free throws for the Warriors. A more neutral observer might have considered the possibility of double techs — one on Draymond for the initial shove, and another on Mitchell for a very blatant, intentional shove back.
True to classically controversial form, the refs decided to hand Draymond a tech — his second, leading to an ejection — while Mitchell emerged with a simple, inexplicable common foul. Green is always a lightning rod for ref-based discourse. Naturally, the internet was abuzz.
So was Draymond, who paraded around the court hyping up the Golden State faithful before ultimately retreating to the locker room.
Draymond Green, Donovan Mitchell react to controversial ejection in Warriors-Cavaliers
Green shared his honest opinion with reporters, citing his past history with strange ejections and, er, unique foul calls.
"I am the same person that got suspended from the NBA Finals for flagrant fouls that were all called from after the game ... nothing surprises me."
This is not the first time Green has brought up his long history with the NBA refs as a reason — or excuse, or deflection — for an unexpected call. It's partially earned, as Green has committed several egregious, combative acts in the past. On the other hand, that should not color the refs' handling of Green on a game-to-game basis. He should receive the same treatment as everybody else.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr also felt the call was inexplicable.
Frankly, Green is upset at the correct call in this instance, or at least half of a correct call. He shoved Mitchell, plain and simple. That was a correct tech. What could be read as mystifying is the lack of a reciprocal tech on Mitchell, who sprinted full-speed up the court with the sole intention of shoving Green. That generally warrants a double tech, even if he's retaliating and is justifiably miffed.
As for Mitchell's reaction to the whole ordeal, the best summation is a clip from the game. It doesn't take a professional lip-reader to make out his comment: "F**k outta here."
After the game, Mitchell admitted the intentional nature of his shove to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
"I don’t push people for no reason. Couldn’t let that go without nothing being done."
There is an argument to be made from Green's perspective that Mitchell should have received the same punishment, but let's be real — Green is, per usual, the instigator. You can't pick a fight and complain about the consequences.
Golden State won't face Cleveland again this season, so unfortunately we can't look forward to the sequel.