Three takeaways from epic Steph Curry effort that led Warriors to Game 7 win
The reports of the death of the Warriors era have been greatly exaggerated.
Stephen Curry had one of the greatest games of his career — and that is saying something — and the Warriors survive and advance, winning Game 7 on the road 120-100. It brings to an end one of the best, highest-level first-round series in recent memory. The Warriors move on to face the Lakers and the best Kings’ season in 16 years ends.
Here are three takeaways from Game 7.
1) This is what Stephen Curry does, scores Game 7 record 50
As he has done since college, Curry digs deep when everything is on the line and proves his doubters wrong — this time with 50 points including seven 3-pointers, plus eight rebounds and six assists thrown in. It was an all-time performance from an all-time great.
“Steph was elite,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “He did what he was supposed to do. He put those guys on his back and said, ‘I’m going to make sure we’re not losing tonight.’”
“It’s just Steph Curry. I mean, he’s that good,” Steve Kerr said. “I also think his approach to these games is he’s gonna go down swinging. He took 18 threes. The biggest number is the one turnover. So, because he had space he was able to attack and be really aggressive.”
This aggressive Curry had some help, but as it has always been with the Warriors, it starts with him. And he once again lived up to the billing.
2) While the Warriors kept scoring, the Kings struggled to keep up
The pre-playoffs conventional wisdom on how this series might play out became the reality of Game 7: Curry and the Warriors are going to get theirs, could the Kings score with them when it matters?
Not on Sunday.
De’Aaron Fox was 5-of-19. Kevin Huerter shot 2-of-9. Malik Monk was 4-of-14. As a team the Kings shot under 40%, 25.5% from 3, and had an offensive rating of 104.2. Nothing worked consistently. Give the Warriors’ defense credit for some of that, but a lot of it was just the Kings learning how to play in these moments. Players and teams have to learn how to win in the NBA postseason, and the Kings got their first hard lesson about that in a long time.
Fox is a clutch player, but he wasn’t on this day, he had his worst game of the series. He will bounce back from this, but today stung.
Domantas Sabonis led the Kings with 22 points, but he was outplayed by Kevon Looney in Game 7, particularly in the second half — Looney had more offensive rebounds (10) than Sabonis had total rebounds (eight). Looney had 21 rebounds total, while Sabonis had no rebounds in the third quarter when the Warriors started to pull away.
The Warriors have been in these moments for a decade and had the poise to handle it. The Kings are still learning.
3) The Kings proved they belong; now it’s Curry vs. LeBron in West
Sunday was a disappointing end to a breakthrough season for the Kings. However, this was not just a “great job on breaking the streak” season, this was something Sacramento can build on and move into true contender status. If nothing else this postseason, the Kings went from the team everyone thought they wanted to face to the team everyone is glad they didn’t have to face.
The Kings have a young core with Fox, Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Huerter, Monk, etc. — all are 27 or younger.
The Kings have hard choices to make. Harrison Barnes is a free agent and may be priced out of what the Kings want to spend. Beyond that this is a roster that needs tweaks. Winning in the postseason with Sabonis is something the Kings need to figure out — his lack of floor spacing and defense (although he was better on that end this series) hinder Sacramento in the playoffs. In Game 7, Sabonis was 8-of-10 on shots in the paint, 2-of- 6 from everywhere else (he took and missed one 3), and Looney dominated him in the paint. Sabonis will be an All-NBA center this season, but at the very least the Kings need the right front-line players next to him to play off his strengths to take the next step.
The Warriors now move on to a TNT/Disney television executives’ dream — Curry vs. LeBron James.
Warriors vs. Lakers is a fascinating series. Looney played well against Sabonis, but Anthony Davis is at another level right now, can the Warriors contain him? Golden State will need more out of Jordan Poole than they got against Sacramento. Andrew Wiggins is going to get the LeBron assignment and generally has done well defending him, but the Warriors need Wiggins to have a series like he did in the Finals last year. Draymond Green is going to have to be special (and will get time on LeBron and AD). The Warriors need a Klay Thompson game or two.
It’s a matchup the Warriors can win, but they have to execute at a high level.
What they have in their corner is Wardell Stephen Curry. As he showed Sunday, that can be enough.