The Sacramento Kings started the 2023 NBA Playoffs on a rousing pace, as they toppled the defending champions Golden State Warriors in the first two games of their series. Yes, the Warriors have only won 11 road games this year, but many NBA pundits felt they would have stole either Game 1 or Game 2 at Golden 1 Center.
With Draymond Green’s suspension and Gary Payton II’s absence in Game 3, the situation favored the Kings to steal the contest at Chase Center. Still, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and the rest of the crew prevented that. Golden State claimed Game 3 with a 114-97 statement victory over Sacramento. With Green and possibly Payton II returning for Game 4, the Warriors are back in the hotly-contested affair.
The second unit of the Kings, led by Malik Monk and Davion Mitchell, was non-existent in Game 3. Sacramento will return with a vengeance on Sunday afternoon, but they are in deep trouble because of the blowout.
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Stephen Curry has found his rhythm
The first reason why Golden State remains to be frightening is because of the sheer presence of Stephen Curry on the basketball court. His numbers in Game 1 and 2 were not horrific, but it was subpar based on the stats he’s produced in the postseason. There were spurts wherein he was unstoppable in Sacramento, but for most of the game, he was not his usual Stephen Curry.
In Game 3, head coach Steve Kerr changed his rotation and substitution patterns, mainly centered on Curry’s rest at a different juncture of the game. Thus, Curry’s minutes on the floor put him more with the Kings’ second-unit guys and propelled him to record 36 points, six made threes, and 48% shooting from the field. Sacramento head coach Mike Brown will adjust for Game 4, but he knows himself that when Curry starts cooking, it is a recipe for disaster.
Andrew Wiggins is well-conditioned
Missing the last 25 contests of the regular season, the conditioning and rhythm of Andrew Wiggins were a massive cause of concern entering the postseason. Wiggins missed two critical perimeter shots in Game 1, but it was part of getting back into the groove. In the last two contests, Wiggins has had a stellar impact on both ends of the floor, similar to the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
In Game 3, Wiggins could play 34 minutes as he contributed 20 points and seven boards while switching from De’Aaron Fox to Domantas Sabonis on any possession. His game is not the sexiest or highlight-worthy package, but Wiggins continues to be the second most important player for the Warriors. As he starts reaching his peak level, it will be scary hours for the Kings and whoever comes next if Golden State moves on.
The defense is tight and locked-in
When Golden State won the chip last year, their defense was one of the best in the association. For strange reasons, they have plummeted to 14th in the league in defensive rating. In the series’ first two games, Sacramento shot over 40% from the field, but that dwindled to a measly 38% field-goal percentage in Game 3.
Fox and Sabonis were still getting their usual numbers, but guys like Monk and Keegan Murray looked intimidated due to the raucous crowd at Chase Center. The issue was not only with the Kings’ abysmal shooting but also the unforced turnovers that resulted in easy buckets. The Warriors finished more possessions by tallying a 59-53 rebounding advantage over the heftier Kings squad to cap it all off.
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