Series Recap: Warriors vs Kings Round 1


The Warriors-Kings Round 1 series did not disappoint, as it was the only series thus far that went to 7 games. Fans from both cities were absolutely rowdy, riveting, and loud for every single game, some players had historic performances,  other players had on-court heated drama, and every game had its own nuances and coaches adjustments that made each and every game so entertaining for fans. All in all, the Warriors won the series, 4-3, and will move on to play the 7-seeded Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals. Before previewing the Warriors-Lakers series, which is slated to also be highly entertaining and may potentially be symbolic of the end of an era (one last LeBron vs Curry series in the playoffs), a full, comprehensive recap of the enthralling, electric Round 1 series for the Warriors is needed.             

Game 1

Game 1 was significant for the Warriors in that it was Andrew Wiggins' return to action for the first time in over 2 months. On the other hand, Game 1 was certainly significant for the Kings in that it was their first playoff game in over 16 years. As a result, both teams were understandably energized heading into Game 1. Wiggins came off the bench in Game 1 in an effort to get more acclimated with NBA pacing and speed, and quite frankly, his stamina seemed to have hampered him a bit in the second half, and it proved to have significant consequences late in the game. It was DeAaron Fox's and Malik Monk's playoff debuts as well, and they did not disappoint whatsoever, going for a combined 70 points. The Warriors and Kings were basically even at every category in round one, with the Warriors having a slightly higher FG% while the Kings had a slightly higher 3-point %. Both teams also struggled with turnovers as well, with the Warriors at 15 turnovers while the Kings had 13 turnovers. The main difference in the game was clearly the offensive rebounding numbers, since the Kings had 8 more offensive rebounds in Game 1, leading to 12 more second-chance points. However, this game came down to the last shot, which Andrew Wiggins unfortunately missed. He was projected to play 20-25 minutes but ended up playing 28, which probably one of the factors as to why he missed the open three to tie the game. Kings take Game 1, 126-123.      

 Game 2

Game 2 was the epitome of what the Warriors looked like on the road all season, with constant, excessive turnovers and fouling, horrible shooting, and the inability to guard players. The Warriors had a whooping 20 turnovers this game, allowed Sacramento to shoot 29 free throws while the Warriors shot just 18, and let 6 out of the 8 Sacramento players that got significant minutes to score double digits. The infamous stomp by Draymond Green onto Domantas Sabonis also happened this game, leading to Green's ejection and subsequent suspension from Game 3. Although the Game was relatively close during Green's ejection, Sacramento began to pull away late in the game after the Warriors lost their defensive anchor. On the positive note, Andrew Wiggins played 39 minutes, indicating that his stamina is relatively stable and back to normal, and Klay Thompson had a very efficient 21 points. At the end of the day, the turnovers and excessive fouling killed the Warriors, and the Kings take Game 2, 114-1o8, and the Warriors were suddenly down 0-2 for the first time in the Steve Kerr era.               

Game 3

With the news that Green was going to be suspended for Game 3, the Warriors clearly turned up their intensity, both for their teammate Draymond Green and for the hopes of keeping their season alive. The good thing was that the defending champs were back home, where they have been absolutely dominant. In fact, the Warriors were actually more dominant at home this year than they were at home last year, during their championship season. With Draymond Green suspended, Steve Kerr obviously had to make adjustments and figure out who should play in place of Green. The first big adjustment was putting Jordan Poole into the starting lineup with the Splash Brothers, Wiggins, and Looney. This coaching decision is arguably what saved the Warriors' season, as inserting Poole created a lot more spacing on the floor, which is needed when playing against statistically the top NBA offense in over 30 years. The increase in spacing allowed more shooters to get open,  created more isolation opportunities for Steph, and allowed Looney to go to town, one-on-one against Sabonis, on the offensive glass. Green being gone also meant that Kerr had to go deeper into the rotation to see which players fit best against the Kings. The player that caught the attention of Kerr was Moses Moody, who provided great perimeter defense and even more floor spacing compared to players like JaMyhcal Green or Jonathan Kuminga. Moses finished with 13 pointed on 7 shots, Looney had his first 20-rebound game, and Curry had his first offensive explosion of the series, finishing the game with 36 points. In a must win game without their defensive anchor, the Warriors won, 114-97.            

Game 4

With Green back from suspension, he made a team-first decision by opting the go to the bench, after watching Game 3 and having a "what works doesn't have to be changed" mentality. Game 4 was by far the most entertaining game of the series and epitomized what fans wanted and expected before the series even started: two offensive juggernauts, going shot-for-shot, putting on an offensive clinic without much defense being played. On the Kings' side, Game 4 was the playoffs coming-out party for rookie Keegan Murray, who had essentially been a non-factor prior to this game. Fox again put on a show, scoring 38 points yet again. However, the Warriors undoubtedly matched the Kings' offensive firepower, as four players scored 18+, and Draymond Green, back from suspension, made it an effort to get his own and ended with 12 points. He could have had 20+ had he not missed all those layups, but at the end of the day, it did not matter as the Warriors still pulled out with the win. Game 4 was genuinely a beautiful offensive showdown, with both teams playing clean, turnover-free basketball. Both teams shared the ball extraordinarily and shot the ball efficiently. Like Game 2, Game 4 came down to the last shot. Draymond Green took a risk and double-teamed Fox with Curry during the last possession of the game, leading to a wide-open Harrison Barnes. Thankfully, Barnes missed the game-winning three after Fox passed the ball to him, and all of a sudden, the defending champions were back. The Warriors win 126-125, and the series was tied 2-2.                                         

Game 5

With the series now condescend from a 7-game series to a 3-game series, the Warriors knew that they had to get at least one game on the road, and the Kings knew that they simply had to defend home court. Game 5 was all about the Warriors' experience, especially when it came to late-game situations and execution. The Kings yet again had well-rounded scoring, with three 20+ scorers and 3 other 10+ scorers, but in clutch time, their inexperience was clearly evident, especially with their Clutch Player of the Year DeAaron Fox clearly hampered from a broken finger that he tried to play through. Rather than the Warriors committing a plethora of turnovers, it was the Kings in Game 5 who had turnover issues, with 19 turnovers compared to the Warriors' 14. The Warriors' bigs also had historic performances in Game 5, with Draymond Green scoring 21 off the bench, and Looney getting 20+ rebounds for the second time in the series. Steph had yet another offensive masterclass, scoring 31, while Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins chipped in for a combined 45 points. The Warriors finally got that lucrative road win, as they won 123-117, and it seemed like all the momentum was swinging in the Warriors' favor, heading back home for Game 6. 

Game 6

Game 6 was an absolute shocker for everyone except probably the die-hard Sacramento Kings fans. With the Warriors at home, everyone expected them to close the series out considering how dominant they have been at Chase Center this entire season. However, most peoples' predictions could not have been further from the truth. Quite frankly, the Warriors just seemed lackadaisical to start off the game, as if they expected the young Kings to just back off and give up after dropping Game 5. The Kings got off to an 8-0 start and never looked back from that point on. The bench for the Warriors was absolutely awful, with Malik Monk outscoring the entire Warriors' bench combined. However, Jordan Poole has one of his worst performances of the entire season during Game 6, putting up a stat line that was similar to that from his rookie season. It wasn't like the Kings players put up insane statlines as well. Fox had 26, which is to be expected, and Sabonis, a man who nearly averaged a 20 point triple double during the regular season, just put up 7, 11 and 4. Turnovers weren't that big of an issue as well, as both teams' turnover numbers were in the high teens. When a team like the Warriors gets beat so badly without the opposing team playing incredibly great, there is only one explanation: coaching. Mike Brown completely outcoached Kerr in Game 6. Brown opted to go with Terence Davis rather than Alex Len off the bench in Game 6, which proved to work wonders for the Kings, just like putting Jordan Poole in the starting lineup had worked wonders for the Warriors for games 3-5. Davis, like Poole, gave the Kings a lot more spacing, allowing players like Fox and Monk to hunt defenders and score in isolation. All in all, the Kings won in dominant fashion, 118-99. 

Game 7

Is there more that has to be said? Game 7 was by all means a Steph Curry masterclass. With the Warriors' backs against the walls, and everyone else on the Warriors shooting inefficiently, like Klay's 4/19 shooting and Wiggins' 5/16 shooting, Curry took it upon himself to carry the Warriors into the second round. He dropped 50 points on 20-for-38 shooting, and simply willed the Warriors to a win. A 50 point game in a Game 7 has never been done before up to this point, and it was clear that the Kings fanbase had their lives sucked out of them after Curry kept dropping contested three after contested three. Though it seemed like everyone else on the Warriors played terribly, shout-outs have to be made to Kevon Looney, who got 20+ rebounds for the third time this series, and the perimeter defenders of Wiggins, Payton, and Moody, who collectively held Fox to just 16 points of 5-19 shooting. Watching Curry go for 50 truly felt like a spiritual experience, and honestly, what's understood doesn't have to be explained. 

Credit to the young Kings for never giving up and providing fans and the Warriors alike with a fantastic series. Now, the Warriors move on and face the familiar foe of the Lakers, with Lebron, AD, and a newly-constructed supporting cast. The highly-anticipated series begins Tuesday, May 2, at 7 PM, on TNT.                                                     

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