Nothing like a Game 7, Stephen Curry, to close out the series. The Kings vs. Warriors series was an incredible seven-game series, with Stephen Curry closing it out with a stunning 50-point performance. This article will be a mix of my thoughts on the series and that game seven. And then, we shall all turn our sights to another chapter of the great Lebron and Curry rivalry.
Going into Game 7, it wasn’t very comforting to see what happened in that game 6 because they went into that game with absolutely zero urgency. Steve Kerr’s game plan going into that game was something you would see in the regular season, running the motion offense to the ground and showing up with zero urgency to close out the series because the last thing you want is for this team to be in a must-win close-out game on the road.
It’s been proven that The Warriors play more comfortably at home. Still, the Warriors must be able to play purposefully and prioritize things like Steph on the ball and not by running this motion offense that usually gets them in trouble, especially on the road.
The Warriors often play well enough at home that the motion offense is sufficient for them to win. They’re good at home because players naturally play better in their home arena. There’s less pressure with the crowd on your side, and of course, knowing that your up 3-2 if they do end up losing game six, but that’s never the mindset you want to have to go into a playoff game, the intensity level has got to be at an all-time high. And going into game six, The Warriors and Stephen Curry didn’t have that. Curry needs to be on the ball and take control rather than standing on the court and watching his teammates consistently fail him.
In game 1, they started off doing an excellent job of picking the Kings apart. They ended up having a ten-point lead in that 3rd quarter, and Kerr took Curry out for a detrimental few minutes. And the Kings go on a run. They’re hitting shots and getting stops, and the lead gets cut down to one going into the 4th. By then, when Curry had returned, the Kings had gained enough confidence and momentum that their shot-making was incredible. When the opposing team goes on a run like that, you must be able to capitalize on that lead, and Kerr prematurely takes out Steph, and it costs them the game —forcing Curry to play hero ball in the 4th and hit tough shots, which he did, but it wasn’t enough to come away with the game. But when you shift momentum and blow a game one like that on the road, it, without a doubt, plays a reason why the series went to seven games. Then game 2, the stomp game with Draymond. Warrior’s offense wasn’t perfect. Seemingly playing out of the mud, they couldn’t shoot the ball and ran a lot of motion that even the Warriors couldn’t keep up with. They failed to close the deal, with Davion Mitchell hitting a clutch corner three to call the ball game.
In game 3, Draymond gets suspended but still blows the Kings out 97-114. How did they do it? Putting Steph Curry on the ball, running pick and roll, and high ball screens, with Looney or Wiggins Everyone on the court was spread out, which provides space for Curry allowing him to get to his spots and cook anyone that gets in front of him And defensively, the Warriors were incredible, only allowing 97 points. That game was such an encouraging sign because of the way they were able to regain momentum In game 4, The Warriors were shooting the ball the best all series, but defensively they allowed 125 points and a near Harrison Barnes game-winner The Warriors had control going into the 4th quarter They were hitting shots, and Wiggins had a clutch floater to put them up by 5, but the lead slips away because of a few mistakes made down the stretch, “self-inflicted wounds,” as Steph likes to call them. The Warriors were doing Inexcusable things, like calling a timeout when you were out of them, turning the ball over, taking ill-advised shots, and defensive breakdowns. Despite all those setbacks, they were still able to stay stable and execute on that last possession and close out on a Harrison Barnes game-winning shot, and the series is tied 2-2 going back to Sacramento.
That game five was as composed as The Warriors have been on the road all season. They were under control all game running halfcourt sets, playing at their pace, and with all the momentum on their side throughout the game, Draymond Green had 21 massive points, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Arguably one of the best Draymond Greens we’ve ever seen on both sides of the court in terms of locking down and stopping D’aaron Fox, being everywhere defensively, peel-switching, and playing cat and mouse in the pick and roll, which was all incredibly encouraging to see out of Draymond.
In game 6, the Warriors find themselves up 3-2. You would expect them to close out the series like they historically have, but they didn’t. They laid an egg. Following game six, Curry gave a speech to his teammates after that loss, telling the locker room “to put their feelings aside and lock in for the task at hand,” Green told The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II and Shams Charania ‘If you’re getting on this bus, you’re making a commitment to this team No matter if you play zero minutes or 40 minutes You’re making a commitment to do whatever it takes Prepare your mind and body for this opportunity we have. We got embarrassed the other night, and we never f–king going out like that.'” Curry addressed the team following its lackadaisical game six performance and addressed and hinted particular messages to players that if you’re worried about the wrong thing, to not get on that bus. Game 6 was just a huge letdown. Malik Monk went into that game, hitting contested shots and ending with 28/4/7. The Warriors were discombobulated defensively, allowing open dunks and freeways to the rim. Overall, the Warriors went into that game not looking like a championship team seeking to close out the series.
Then game seven comes around, and the entire Warriors fanbase is under fire. And defensively, the Warriors played a decent first half, only a two-point game going into the second half (56-58). The Kings were hitting tough shots, and guys like Terrance Davis and Davion Mitchell knocked down some tough threes. Sabonis made sure the Warriors felt his presence with 16 big first-half points. Ultimately, The Kings shot profile/selection essentially led to what the Warriors precisely wanted them to do. The Kings bench outscored the Warriors bench effortlessly (41-18). But in that second half, the Warriors were able to string together some stops, and Curry took over, and that’s practically the story of the game. The Kings were playing recklessly, turning the ball over, and taking bad shots. Once the Warriors started to get some stops and get into their sets
Although they won the series, it wasn’t very reassuring to see how some of those games went down, most importantly games one and six. Game One was more on coaching and not assimilating what’s best for the team, like making in-game adjustments, and Game Six was more on the players. Again players must come out with some sense of urgency and show out with that killer mentality and urge to close out the series as they historically have. Similarly, the Warriors were completely detached from the game and allowed the game to slip away. The Warriors had numerous things to clean up on top of the Xs and Os of rebounding the ball, boxing out, sticking to your man, and understanding your role/assignment. However, The Warriors did a good job as the series went on.
Mike Brown’s coaching in this series was detrimental to The Warriors and almost cost them their season. Throwing different curve balls with guys like Alex Len in the first couple of games, who provided energy as a roll threat, crashing the glass and rebounding offensively. The Kings left that as soon as the Warriors figured out those minutes. Then went to Trey Lyles as the five to try to spread their offense five-out, forcing The Warriors defense to scramble, break down, and pick them apart by considering all the Kings offensive threats. Then they left Lyles and moved on to Davion Mitchell and Terrence Davis, who can shoot the three-ball and provide an immense amount of spacing. Overall this series was a great chess match between Steve Kerr and Mike Brown. In my opinion, I would argue that Brown outcoached Kerr in this series, given the adjustments that Kerr made. Although Kerr did a good job those last three games minimizing the Kings, making adjustments, and playing the right guys.