The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings put on an absolute show on Saturday night, with one of the most entertaining playoff games in recent memory. But when the buzzer rang, Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins had missed last-minute threes, and the Warriors had dropped the game 126-123, setting up an incredibly important matchup on Monday night.
Let’s grade the players from a game that was wildly entertaining but utimately disappointing. As always, grades are weighted based on my expectations for each player, with a “B” grade representing the average performance from that player.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. League-average TS this year was 58.2%.
33 minutes, 4 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 1-for-5 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 34.0% TS, -1
I’ve seen a lot of Green slander on Twitter after this game, and honestly I don’t get it. I thought he was really good in this game. His defense was dialed up, and he was a huge part of why All-Star Domantas Sabonis shot just 5-for-17 from the field. Green’s on-ball defense when guarding Sabonis was strong, but his off-ball defense in the lane was where he truly shined.
His playmaking was special, even if his scoring was not. I thought it was a really good game.
Dray droppin' DIMES— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 16, 2023
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists, tied for the team lead in rebounds.
32 minutes, 8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 5 fouls, 2-for-2 shooting, 4-for-6 free throws, 86.2% TS, 0 plus/minus
I’ll be honest: I was surprised that Looney played so much in this game. With Green so capable of defending Sabonis, I thought we’d see more of Steve Kerr using small-ball lineups, especially given Wiggins’ return.
But instead, Kerr kept the lineups mostly traditional, and it’s hard to blame him given how well Looney played this year, and this game. He helped make life very difficult for Sabonis.
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in rebounds.
37 minutes, 30 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 turnovers, 3 fouls, 11-for-20 shooting, 6-for-14 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 71.8% TS, +11
I’m deeply curious to see how Curry plays on Monday for Game 2. He was pretty quiet for much of this game, happy to get his teammates going and play the role of decoy. At some point in the second half he decided to try and take over and, as is so often the case, it looked like a great idea.
Steph Gonna STEPH— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 16, 2023
Now that the team has fallen behind, I wouldn’t be surprised if Curry comes out of the gates firing on Monday. He had 20 shots and two free throw attempts ... his counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, had 27 shots and 12 free throw attempts.
That’s not a criticism of Steph, who was brilliant as usual, and made some incredible shots down the stretch. But with the team’s back against the wall, it wouldn’t shock me if he came out on Monday with the intent to put the team on his shoulders.
And with the intent to erase the memory of missing a good look at the buzzer to tie the game.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points and plus/minus.
37 minutes, 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 8-for-19 shooting, 5-for-14 threes, 55.3% TS, -14
Klay had a hot start, scoring 7 of the team’s first 12 points. Then the game went downhill for him after that though. I thought he did a good job of moving the ball and playing within the system, but his shot wasn’t falling and his defense wasn’t very good.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
20 minutes, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 3-for-5 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 85.0% TS, +2
DiVincenzo had a super solid game on offense. His shooting was smart and efficient, and he had some very clutch shots. He had a few brilliant passes, and didn’t contribute to the team’s turnover issues.
But it wasn’t his best defensive game. He’s been an on-ball pest most of the year, but his defense on Fox couldn’t hold up to what Wiggins and Gary Payton II offered. I’ll be curious to see whether he gets fewer minutes in Game 2, or if Kerr just banks on a bounce-back game.
10 minutes, 8 points, 1 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 3-for-6 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, 54.6% TS, 0 plus/minus
Looney played more minutes than I expected and, as a result, Kuminga played fewer. It’s easy to see how Kuminga could be a difference maker in this series, but he looked a little in over his head in this game. He reverted to his old habits of trying to bail himself out with athleticism, and didn’t seem too committed to defense or rebounding.
28 minutes, 17 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 blocks, 3 fouls, 7-for-16 shooting, 1-for-8 threes, 2-for-4 free throws, 47.9% TS, -5
Wiggins looked really good when he first took the floor, and even though he’s probably beating himself up for missing a wide open corner three, it was encouraging seeing how much he looked like himself after an absence of more than two months.
2⃣2⃣— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 16, 2023
Maestro from the midrange. pic.twitter.com/9d4eHjyALb
There were some downsides, to be sure: he didn’t put much emphasis on rebounding, and he was overly passive offensively. But he was also one of the team’s best defenders, looked fully in shape, and was able to play 28 minutes. Will he be back in the starting lineup on Monday?
I don’t know what my expectations should be given his lengthy absence, so if the grade seems harsh it’s because I’m grading him as though he didn’t miss time.
Gary Payton II
20 minutes, 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 4-for-7 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 57.1% TS, -3
I could watch GPII defend Fox all day long. It’s such a compelling matchup.
Payton had a strong all-around game, and reminded us that his impact is felt even more in the playoffs. It’s hard to imagine them trying to gameplan for Fox without him.
22 minutes, 17 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 4-for-10 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 7-for-8 free throws, 62.9% TS, -5
I’m not sure what to make of Poole’s game. It didn’t feel like he played particularly well, but the stats were nice. With the Warriors struggling to get to the line, he repeatedly attacked the rim and earned free throws. He took care of the ball while still being free-flowing.
Jordan Poole's too smooth— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 16, 2023
His defense was really bad, though we don’t expect him to be an impact player on that end of the court. I maintain that his offensive explosions could win the Warriors a playoff game or series, even if I don’t think he was as good as the box score suggests.
Saturday’s DNPs: Patrick Baldwin Jr., JaMychal Green, Anthony Lamb, Moses Moody
Saturday’s inactives: Andre Iguodala, Ryan Rollins