You able to exhale yet? Hopefully. In a tense, scary, and ultimately fruitful game, the Golden State Warriors overcame a hell of a fight by the Sacramento Kings — and some of their own huge mistakes — to win Game 4 of their first-round playoff series 126-125 to tie the series at two games apiece.
Let’s grade the players who got the job done and kept the Dubs in this series. As always, grades are based on my expectations for each player, with a “B” grade representing the average performance for 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%.
32 minutes, 8 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 4-for-5 shooting, 80.0% TS, +4
Looney’s first half wasn’t very good. It was the worst he’d looked defending Domantas Sabonis all series, and also the least successful he’s been on the offensive glass — he had no offensive boards at the break, and hadn’t done much to help his teammates (who had just one). But everything changed in the second half. His defense buckled in, particularly in the third quarter, when the Dubs outscored the Kings by 14 points and played brilliant D.
He continues to do amazing things as a passer, and has been responsible for a lot of offensive success in this series. What a player.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
38 minutes, 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 7-for-12 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 65.4% TS, 0 plus/minus
I didn’t think that Wiggins’ on-ball defense on De’Aaron Fox was as good in this game as it has been for a lot of other stretches during the series.
But other than that? A nearly flawless performance. Wiggins was a terror as an off-ball defender, blocking shots both by rotating and by chasing players down. He attacked the glass in ways that the Warriors desperately need. His offense was decisive and efficient.
43 minutes, 32 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 11-for-22 shooting, 5-for-11 threes, 5-for-5 free throws, 66.1% TS, +7
One of the hardest things about grading players is separating the process from the results. Or sometimes, accepting that you can’t do that. I’m fully aware that when the Warriors win a game by one possession I give almost everyone better grades than I would if they lose a game by one possession, even though it often just comes down to one shot by someone on the other team.
Curry’s game is a perfect case in point. He was phenomenal for most of this game. He hit big shot after big shot every time the Kings got close. He was playing like someone who would do whatever was necessary to win.
And then we know what happened. With the Warriors in position to fully put the game away, up five with about 40 seconds left, Curry called a timeout that the team didn’t have. It gave the Kings not just a free throw, but the ball. They scored four points on the possession to get within one.
The Warriors got the ball back with only about three seconds of difference between the game and shot clocks. With Sacramento not fouling, Curry could have milked a lot of clock ... instead he attacked and put up a floater that missed with about 14 seconds left.
Those were two huge mistakes. Some people might add a third mistake for his late close-out on Harrison Barnes at the buzzer, but I’m not sure I agree with that criticism. The Warriors sold out to keep the 2022-23 Clutch Player of the Year Award winner from beating them. If Curry had left early and Fox made a jumper over Draymond Green, everyone would criticize Steph. So I say we live with that one.
Still, if Curry had just dribbled the ball up with 40 seconds and not called a timeout, and iced the game, I’d give him an A. And if Barnes had hit his three, meaning we’ll always remember this game as the time Curry called a timeout that lost the Warriors a series, I’d give him a C.
So I’ll land in the middle. And people on both sides will be annoyed.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
39 minutes, 26 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 9-for-15 shooting, 4-for-9 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 77.6% TS, +22
This whole series we’ve talked about if the Dubs can survive with Curry on the bench. But this game was about surviving with Klay on the bench. The Warriors outscored the Kings by 22 points in Klay’s 39 minutes, and were outscored by 21 points in the nine minutes he spent on the pine.
As I often say here, we can’t put very much stock into single-game individual plus/minus. So you can disregard those stats all you want, but the reality is, any way you slice it, this was Thompson’s best game of the series by a mile. He wasn’t just efficient but he was timely, seemingly having an answer every time the Kings gained momentum.
Just a phenomenal showing.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
26 minutes, 22 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 8-for-15 shooting, 2-for-6 threes, 4-for-5 free throws, 64.0% TS, -1
Also definitely the best game of the series for Poole. He had a poorly-timed technical foul, but it sure seemed like that was an overly-sensitive ref and nothing else. He was a wizard with a lot of his offense, attacked the rim relentlessly, and even had some strong defensive stands.
A very good Poole game.
31 minutes, 12 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 3-for-14 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 6-for-6 free throws, 36.1% TS, +8
Two things that Dray did stood out in this game: first, he made the decision to start the game on the bench, citing the ol’ “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” model. I’ll be honest, I thought he should have started regardless, but I have to think that he won some points with his teammates for that one. Dray has not done a good job of endearing himself to his teammates and the organization this season, and not acting like an entitled Hall of Famer after Monday’s incident was huge. And second, the defense that Green played in the final few possessions was as good as defense can be played. Seriously. As good as it can be played.
He obviously did some bad things, mainly struggling horribly to score. But all in all, a good game for a clearly motivated Dray.
3 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, -8
This just isn’t the series for Kuminga. If the Warriors advance, I’m guessing we’ll see him play a lot more in the next series. But it’s not a very good matchup for him, and he hasn’t looked good in the limited minutes he’s received.
Gary Payton II
7 minutes, 2 points, 1-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 33.3% TS, -11
Not sure if GPII was still feeling the effects of the illness that kept him from playing on Thursday, or if it just wasn’t his game. But either way, he didn’t really make an impact except on a few plays. There aren’t many perimeter players where GPII isn’t the team’s best defensive option, but Wiggins is doing a much better job on Fox than GPII is.
Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.
16 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 foul, 1-for-3 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 50.0% TS, -11
DiVincenzo also hasn’t had nearly as much luck defending Fox — or any of the Kings perimeter players — as Wiggins has. He did do some really good things as a playmaker, but mostly just ate minutes.
Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.
5 minutes, 3 points, 1 foul, 1-for-1 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 150.0% TS, -5
I thought Moody might play more in this game given how well he’s played in the last few. But you can’t blame Steve Kerr for essentially using a six-man rotation. Moody played well when he was out there, but the Warriors didn’t have much margin for error.
Sunday’s DNPs: Patrick Baldwin Jr., JaMychal Green, Anthony Lamb
Sunday’s inactives: Andre Iguodala, Ryan Rollins