Wow. What a game. What an absolutely unreal game. The Golden State Warriors spent all year arrogantly — and infuriatingly — acting like they could turn it on when they mattered. And on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, on the road, in Game 7, they walked the walk after talking the talk.
The Dubs turned the most important — and hardest — game of the season into a blowout, quieting the Golden One Center crowd en route to a 120-100 win. With the drubbing, the Warriors booked their ticket to the Western Conference Semifinals, and a lucrative matchup against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers ... and a series in which they’ll somewhat hilariously have homecourt advantage.
I was tempted to give every player an A+ since they won the series, but I’m going to save such privilege for bigger moments, like winning the NBA Finals. Still, these grades will probably be a little generous, as they should be. As always, they’re weighted based on expectations, with a “B” grade representing a player’s average performance.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring-efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. League-average TS this season was 58.2%.
38 minutes, 8 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 4 fouls, 3-for-7 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 50.8% TS, +25
Green returned to the starting lineup, which is where he’ll almost surely stay until the season is over. And wow was it a vintage Dray performance. Steve Kerr switched up a lot of the defensive assignments, with Green spending a ton of time on Domantas Sabonis. While Sabonis’ overall line looked quite nice — 22 points on 16 shots, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists — Dray’s defense completely disrupted Sacramento’s league-best offense.
Add in the brilliant playmaking — and don’t you dare overlook the donut in the turnover column — and it was an absolute masterclass from Dray.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
31 minutes, 11 points, 21 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 fouls, 4-for-5 shooting, 3-for-5 free throws, 76.4%, +25
There’s not much editorializing to do about Looney. I mean, look at these stats:
Kevon Looney's final tally this series: 106 rebounds, 37 offensive rebounds, 30 assists, 8 turnovers— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) April 30, 2023
And look at this stat:
Kevon Looney had more offensive rebounds this series than 293 NBA players had this season.— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) April 30, 2023
And look at this stat:
Kevin Looney outrebounded the NBA’s leading rebounder by 29 boards across the series.— NBABeau (@NBABeau) April 30, 2023
Has a league leading rebounder ever lost the battle of the boards by more to a single opponent in a playoff series?
It was truly at the point where I thought every shot was a good shot because if the Warriors missed it, Looney would rebound it.
I’m out of words for this guy. On a team with Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins, Looney was the second-best player this series.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
37 minutes, 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 5-for-16 shooting, 1-for-5 threes, 6-for-10 free throws, 41.7% TS, +25
Wiggins struggled with his shot all night long. Twos. Threes. Free throws. He just couldn’t get a bucket to drop.
But the beautiful thing about the Warriors — and the beautiful thing about how Wiggins has evolved his game since coming to Golden State — is that he doesn’t need to score to be successful.
Here’s the reality about Wiggins’ Game 7: he was really bad shooting the basketball. And he was still an absolute star. His defense on De’Aaron Fox was spectacular, as he held the Kings All-Star to 5-for-19 shooting and 5 turnovers. His rebounding was even stronger than the number suggests, and his energy and focus were outstanding.
It’s pretty hard to shoot 5-for-16 and have a star showing, but that’s exactly what Wiggins did.
38 minutes, 50 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 20-for-38 shooting, 7-for-18 threes, 3-for-5 free throws, 62.2% TS, +25
It was pretty clear early on that Curry was not going to let the Warriors lose. And when the dust settled, he had the highest-scoring Game 7 in NBA history, and an all-time great playoff performance. Four championships and two MVPs later, Curry is still adding moments to the very top of his resume.
Game 7.— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 30, 2023
WHO ELSE pic.twitter.com/Y23vEDQuW4
Don’t even think about taking this guy for granted.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
35 minutes, 16 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 4-for-19 shooting, 2-for-10 threes, 6-for-8 free throws, 35.5% TS, +30
There’s only so much that you can learn from single-game individual plus/minus. For instance, you can’t determine that Klay was the Warriors best player just because he had the best plus/minus.
But what you can determine is that they played pretty damn well when he was on the court, despite the horrific shooting percentages. Klay had a pretty poor series, by his standards, but this was a game where he played well despite the awful shooting. He had some of the best defense that he’d played all year, and his off-ball movement opened up the court for everyone else. And he had maybe the biggest shot of the game.
HOOP & THE HARM FROM DISTANCE https://t.co/nhH49ua1Kc pic.twitter.com/dLeBCrXIHU— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 30, 2023
Had Klay even made an average number of his shots, we would have been talking about this being perhaps his best game of the season. He was that good in the other areas.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
3 minutes, 0 points, -4
Just garbage time for Kuminga, who basically didn’t play in this series. I’d bet we see more of him against the Lakers.
Gary Payton II
16 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 blocks, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 50.0% TS, -13
Payton’s bad plus/minus is due to the fact that he spent a large chunk of his minutes in the lineups that didn’t have Curry and Green. So don’t let that distract you from the fact that a point guard had 4 blocks in 16 minutes.
This closeout from GPII >>>> pic.twitter.com/B45xdl4qcp— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 30, 2023
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
8 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1-for-1 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 150.0% TS, -6
Kerr did the smart thing and cut out most of DiVincenzo’s minutes this series. It just wasn’t working with the way his shot has been struggling and the way he hasn’t been able to defend Fox and Malik Monk as well as Wiggins and Payton have. But I would expect that we see DiVincenzo play a huge role in the next series. He’s a much better matchup against the Lakers.
19 minutes, 8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 3-for-9 shooting, 2-for-6 threes, 44.4% TS, -2
Poole made some important adjustments in this game. Even if he still didn’t shoot well, he had much better shot selection and much better decision-making in general. The Dubs will need him against the Lakers, and he’s trending in the right direction after this game.
15 minutes, 5 points, 1 block, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 2-for-3 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 83.3% TS, -5
Moody got into the game early, and deservedly so. He proved to be a critical player in this series, even if the numbers in this game didn’t show it. The Warriors needed to play him, and needed him to show up, and he did exactly that.
Sunday’s DNPs: JaMychal Green, Anthony Lamb
Sunday’s inactives: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Andre Iguodala, Ryan Rollins