No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series. And while the Golden State Warriors sounded genuinely excited about the opportunity to overcome a 2-0 deficit after Monday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, falling behind 3-0 was a step too far.
And so they left Sacramento with their back firmly against the wall. And when they found out Draymond Green would be suspended for Game 3, their back got pressed even more firmly. And when Gary Payton II was ruled out, it got pressed further still.
But there’s a funny thing about being in an unfavorable situation. If you can survive, you’ll feel pretty damn confident when you’re not in an unfavorable situation. And you can be damn sure your opponent notices that as well.
And so the Warriors did the best thing they could have done: they not only beat the Kings, but they demolished them, winning 114-97 in a game that never felt as close as the score.
The first few possessions foreshadowed what would happen. Sacramento turned the ball over on their first possession, and De’Aaron Fox clanked a pair of free throws on their second. The Dubs’ defense was spectacular, forcing five turnovers in the first frame, while the offense committed just one. The bench — Donte DiVincenzo and Moses Moody were the first two names called — were sensational. DiVincenzo ended the quarter with a brilliant move — one of the plays of the year — and the Warriors led 29-20.
END OF QUARTER DONTE IS DIFFERENT pic.twitter.com/S8OSDKz8VZ— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 21, 2023
The Dubs took the Kings first punch in the second quarter, but they answered immediately. The arena was full of life. The reserves were bringing energy. Andrew Wiggins was making plays. Kevon Looney was rebounding everything in sight. The defense was relentless. Curry missed a three as halftime neared, but Looney gobbled up the rebound and found Curry for a reload, and the Warriors led by 12 at the break.
#StephGonnaSteph https://t.co/CwPiqSyZxE pic.twitter.com/5f5eB7aERh— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 21, 2023
They started the third just as hot, before Sacramento answered. But then one Warriors answered in return: Moody. It was one of the best games of Moody’s career, and the entire team locked in as the lead got larger and larger.
A few minutes into the fourth, and it was all just a formality. Curry spent the final minutes getting Klay Thompson some good looks to get him in rhythm, and the only question was what the final score would be.
After losing two nailbiters on the road, the Warriors made a statement with a blowout at home, while being shorthanded. They may trail the series 2-1, and they may have been awful on the road this year, but now they have all the momentum in the world.
Curry was sensational, finishing with 36 points and just a single turnover. But most importantly, the Warriors survived the minutes when he sat, and were aided by Steve Kerr’s decision to only rest Curry for short bursts, and not let Sacramento swing the momentum.
Looney finished with a hilariously dominant line: 4 points, 9 assists, and 20 rebounds, including 9 on the offensive end. Wiggins was quietly excellent, with 20 points, while DiVincenzo played some of the most disruptive defense you’ll see. Moody finished with 13 points, and Jonathan Kuminga and JaMychal Green played huge roles off the bench.
Game 4 is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. PT in San Francisco. Let’s hope for another statement.