Before the 2018-2019 season started, there was plenty chatter about the reemergence of a division and geographic rival for the Golden State Warriors. That old foe was supposed to be coming from Los Angeles in the form of the LeBron James-led Lakers.
But last night’s narrow 125-123 victory over an even closer foe has the Dubs shifting their attention from SoCal to NorCal. The Sacramento Kings are transforming before our very eyes from bottom feeders into dangerous hunters, and the Warriors are taking note.
The champs swept the season series 4-0, but each game was an exercise in courage under fire. No margin of victory was greater than five points. Here’s a few excerpts from the Dubs sharing their praises and sighs of relief, per ESPN:
- “That’s the fourth game that we deserved to lose against this team,” Kevin Durant said. “But [we] just figure it out at the end of the games.
- “They’re a good team,” Draymond Green said. “They’re scrappy, young, probably the fastest team in the history of the NBA.
- “I love their team and love what they are doing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I said it before the game, every time we play them it’s high energy and it’s beautiful basketball. They are tough to guard. They put a lot of pressure on you.”
Let’s take a quick review of the other three contests the teams battled.
Nov 24, 2018 - Golden State Warriors win vs. Sacramento Kings 117 - 116
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green missed this game with injuries, but fortunately they had two other All-Stars to pick up the load. Kevin Durant erupted for 44 points, while Klay Thompson scored 31 and hit a tough game winner.
Buddy Hield had 28 points, while Mavin Bagley III chipped in 20 for the Kings.
“That was a very good basketball game to watch, to be a part of. I thought we competed our tails off,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
Dec 14, 2018 - Golden State Warriors win @ Sacramento Kings 130 - 125
Curry scored 35 points, Durant had 33, and Thompson added 27. Green had 14 rebounds and 10 assists.
And yet they needed another Thompson dagger to survive in Sacramento.
“They just got us with their experience at the end,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We struggled to finish some shots once a lot of their switching happened. They made some plays but we made some mistakes and they made us pay.”
Jan 5, 2019 - Golden State Warriors win @ Sacramento Kings 127 - 123
Golden State shot 21 of 47 beyond the arc while Sacramento was 20 of 36. The 20 threes were a franchise record for the Kings, and the 41 combined made threes was an NBA record.
Curry went off for 42 points, while Hield countered with 32 points on 8 made triples. The game was in doubt until the Warriors forced a steal and completed an alley-oop with under a minute to go.
“Just an incredible offensive display by both teams,” Kerr said. “The problem for us was the (13) turnovers. Every time we turned the ball over it was a 3 or a dunk. That’s what kept them in the game.”
The Kings are battling to make the playoffs in the stacked West. If they get the 8th seed, there’s a strong chance they’ll be facing the back-to-back champions. That would be must see TV for the entire basketball world.
The most NBA hipster thing I’ve ever seen was people #onhere saying they’d rather have Kings-Warriors than Lakers-Warriors.— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) February 22, 2019
We’ve done it. It is not possible to get more NBA hipster than this.
I have a feeling former Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins would be highly interested in that matchup...
Which California rival would be a more fascinating first round matchup for the champs?
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Los Angeles Lakers