June 18, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Thompson: Stephen Curry and the gang put it all together when the Warriors needed it most

Thompson: Stephen Curry and the gang put it all together when the Warriors needed it most

SAN FRANCISCO — The final seconds of the first quarter were waning, so the Warriors guard went to work from the right wing.

Dance. Jab step right and dribble left, then between the legs to the right. A sudden backward step put him behind the line, pulling the defender away from the basket and setting up a hesitant dribble. Another left-to-right crossover was by Kings forward Trey Lyles, edging past De’Aaron Fox’s reach pass into the paint.

An errant finger roll, high over Sacramento center Alex Lane, fell all over the net when the buzzer sounded. It was just the kind of creativity, touch and timing you’d expect from Stephen Curry.

But that was Donte DiVincenzo.

Curry bent down, so he could get closer and look Divincenzo in the eye, and he pointed at his chest. When he was smoothed over, he gave a look as if to say, “Hey, here’s my chance.”

“That’s exactly what he told me,” DiVincenzo said, smiling as he chatted to reporters in front of his locker after the Warriors’ 114-97 Game 3 win over the Kings on Thursday. “I took a page out of his book.”

If anything has been clear so far in this competitive Western Conference first-round series, it’s that when Curry is on the court, the Warriors are the better team. The Golden State issue was when Curry would be off the ground and whether the support team stood up to the mighty Kings. Draymond Green’s suspension and Gary Payton II’s late scratch due to illness exacerbated the problem Thursday.

Part 1 of the royalty-conquering equation was Curry reigning supreme. He did it: 36 points in 37 minutes. He also has 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, a block, and most importantly, just 1 turnover. The Warriors outscored the Kings by 24 when Curry was on the field.

Through three games, Curry has played 115:08 and the Warriors were plus-38 in those minutes. Only DeAnthony Milton of Philadelphia is higher in this qualifier (+39). At 28:52 Curry is off the bench, Warriors down 32.

Curry said: “We’ve shown that despite our self-inflicted wounds with turnovers, giving up offensive rebounds, we can beat any team, on any night. It’s nice to have something to show now. The minutes I’m there, Just try to be firm, aggressive, take care of the basketball, control the pace. I think we all did better tonight and that helped on defense.”

Perhaps the best sign heading into Game 4 on Sunday is that Curry seems to have figured out the Kings’ blueprint and his holes. He was in complete control for most of the game, getting into positions, stretching and tightening the Sacramento defense until it leaked.

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But the Warriors pulled off a relatively comfortable win Thursday thanks to the second part of the equation. Curry needed someone to ride with, someone to take advantage of the opportunities he creates by being a magnet for the Sacramento Defenders. At the Chase Center, a few delivered.

Go deeper

Inside the Warriors’ winning mentality in Game 3 without Draymond Green

In Games 1 and 2 in Sacramento, the Kings shamelessly dared someone else to beat them with double teams, blitzes on the Warriors pick and roll and square one against Curry. Thursday, even with Klay Thompson’s brutal night out, Curry had some collections.

Andrew Wiggins 20. Jordan Poole 16. Moses Moody 13. DiVincenzo was decisive, Jonathan Cuminga was a cheerleader.

“When Steve’s on the court, you know it’s going to take three guys to guard him,” said Wiggins, who also grabbed 7 rebounds and, after shooting 3-of-16 from behind the arc in Sacramento, found a pace with 3-point ranges. “Because it’s that special. It just frees up the field for everybody else to get open shots, and do plays. Just, the floor opens up.”

The Warriors had 14 plus minutes in Curry in Games 1 and 2 combined. However, the Kings succeeded in their goal of getting Curry to work and pressure the others into a greater offensive load.

In Game 1, the Kings had Fox on Curry, driving the Finals MVP into the traps. Davon Mitchell called in Carrie’s full court and guarded her. On other occasions, Sacramento had Kevin Hutter (or Harrison Barnes) face guard Curry while the rest of the four fullbacks played the area.

Curry managed 30 points on 11 of 20 shooting in the opening series, hitting 6 of 14 from 3. But he had five turnovers.

In Game 2, the Kings gave Curry a heavier load to Mitchell, who defended Curry for most of his 28 minutes on the court. The Warriors usually move Curry off the ball. But with the Kings’ plan to be more aggressive on the perimeter and over the passing lanes, Golden State had a hard time returning the ball to Curry. Former Warriors top assistant coach Mike Brown set up Sacramento for Curry’s off-the-ball practice. So Curry had to fetch the ball to ensure he got it. Which means Mitchell is chasing him 94 feet. Which means that Domantas Sabonis is cornering him. Which means helping defenders run towards him.

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Curry managed 21 shots, hitting just 9 shots – including 3 of 13 of 3. His 28 points and 6 assists required 41 minutes of play.

But despair, two days off, and a few tweaks worked wonders in the third game. His 25 tries on Thursday were more controlled and in his usual flow.

Curry varied his attack, working his way around the trap rather than getting off the ball automatically. He even occasionally splits the double team and makes his way down the lane. And when he did drop out of Level 3, he would often do so suddenly and from a little further away.

But for the most part, he wasn’t very patient with his openings. He was not satisfied with being a decoy. He was aggressive from the start, forcing the Kings to feel the pressure of his offense.

Modi said, “He is not a big man, but he takes over the whole court. His presence is huge.”

Another significant switch was Kerr’s decision to start Poole, allowing him to handle the running responsibilities, until DiVincenzo checked in and took over. They saved Curry from full-court pressure and deadlifted Sacramento serves his way. Poole and DiVincenzo were both more aggressive in Chase Center than they were in Golden 1 Center. They made their defenders worry about them. They took advantage of the open lanes and went more towards the paint. Little things make a big difference.

“Day and night, that’s what (Carey) gave us,” said DiVincenzo. “He made the ball twice, and got off the ball. We did a good job of finding him again, when needed, or going to play. I think it shows a lot from him that he trusts everyone to make the play.”

Neither Paul nor Divincenzo hit the ball well on Thursday. They combined to make 6 of 21, including 2 of 12 of 3. But they also combined for 12 assists and 12 rebounds.

Paul did his job on his still visibly swollen left ankle as he clipped the tape in his locker after the game. DiVincenzo has done his work mostly on the ball as a general rule. Very Andre Iguodala-esque.

“I thought Donte was amazing,” said Steve Kerr. “He handled the ball. He had 8 assists. He took some pressure off Steve and Jordan and got us into our flow.”

The Warriors adjusted Curry’s turnover in Game Three. Curry was out in the middle of each of the first three quarters for a few minutes. Kerr was counting, mainly, on his seat to buy Carey the rest. Getting him through the first three quarters set up Curry to play the entire fourth quarter without playing more than 40 minutes. Kerr has always maintained that there are diminishing returns when Curry is over 40. Now he’s 35 and facing the defensive layers of a young and athletic unit.

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It was Moody who came up to Curry the first time around, at the 6-minute mark of the first quarter. The Warriors were throwing 3s at that point. They took 18 in the first quarter. Once Curry was seated, Paul missed the No. 3 and Thompson followed with another miss. DiVincenzo then missed 3s in a row. But at first an omen that Game 3 will be different, Moody dug an open look. mr stay ready.

Both Moody’s first quarter 3-pointers renewed the Warriors’ lead after the Kings cut it to three.

Then Curry scored 15 in the second quarter, capping it off with a three-pointer from offensive board Kevon Looney in the dying seconds of the first period. Curry took another break in the second half. But when he scored a reach with 3:13 left in the third, he was good for the duration, until he got the game out for good late in the fourth.

He had new legs. He had a plan of attack for the Kings’ defensive approach. He had a message to send to both the Warriors’ delisting after they fell 0-2, and the National Basketball Association to suspend Green.

“They say Draymond’s has a history,” Curry said on TNT’s post-match broadcast. “So do we. We know how to recover.”

The Warriors guard danced on top, hitting Sacramento rookie Keegan Murray with a flurry of moves.

Step back, Hissi, between your legs and behind you. He slows down a bit, kills Murray to sleep, then another sudden cross, left to right, and he has a step. He lowered his shoulder, and made his way past Murray. Once again, Lin was waiting in the middle, so he raised his finger on the extent of his 7-foot jump. It rose high, landed softly, and shook inside.

This time, he jumped off the right foot. This time, he also made the mistake. This time it was Carrie.

This is his shot.

(Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)