SACRAMENTO, California—After four National Basketball Association (NBA) titles and two more trips to the Finals in the past eight seasons, the Golden State Warriors aren’t about to get flustered by one loss in a best-of-seven series.
The Sacramento Kings struck first in the first playoff meeting between the Northern California neighbors and have the lead in the series headed into Game 2 on Monday night.
“You just stay calm in the face of adversity,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “You don’t panic when it doesn’t go your way and just be yourself. If you do those three things, it will be great.”
The Warriors have done that well over the years, building a dynasty around the core of Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
The Kings are in new territory, having made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and used that emotion from their success-starved fans to fuel a late-game push that led to a 126-123 victory behind a 38-point effort from De’Aaron Fox.
The Warriors struggled to keep Fox out of the paint in the second half, sent Malik Monk to the foul line 14 times and missed a franchise playoff-record 34 attempts from 3-point range. But coach Steve Kerr had another area that was his biggest concern: Sacramento’s 17 offensive rebounds that led to 21 second-chance points.
“You can pick apart the game and there’s always going to be stuff that you can do better here or there,” Kerr said. “But when it comes down to it, you throw the schemes out the window, throw the strategy out the window. It comes down to who’s going to get the ball. Who’s going to get the long rebounds and loose balls. They did that much better than we did and that’s why they won.”
Kings coach Mike Brown, who spent the last six seasons as an assistant to Kerr on the Warriors, knows the task against a playoff-tested team like Golden State only gets more difficult as the series progresses.
“It’s not going to get any easier,” Brown said. “It’s not going to stay the same. It’s going to get a lot harder because the more games you win and your opponent loses, the desperation starts kicking in a little bit. They’re NBA champions. They’ve been through it all and they’re not going to lay down at any time in this series.”
Image credits: AP