Friday, June 2 2023

Warriors wear desperation well in needed Game 3 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – With the Warriors winning Game 3 over the Kings, a pulse is restored to their first-round series. It’s not yet highly competitive, but we now know how it can get there.

The Warriors, beginning with Game 4 on Sunday, must apply enough defensive intellect and intensity to make Sacramento’s dynamic offense sweat. In essence, repeat the formula that succeeded in their tip-to-buzzer 114-97 victory Thursday night at Chase Center.

“I mean, pretty bluntly, if we lost this game, it’s pretty much over,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “You’ve got to understand the moment, and we gave ourselves life.

This game was infused with the formula the Warriors couldn’t find in Games 1 and 2, which is why they left Sacramento with two losses.

“We had the right game plan for the first two games,” said Kevon Looney, who finished with team highs in rebounds (20 and assists (nine). “We kept coming up short. We didn’t execute it how we wanted to. And (ahead of Game 3) we were all locked in and watched a lot of film. The mood around the whole team that we were locked in, and our focus grew even more.”

The Game 3 win was not a dazzling work of art. Golden State shot 40 percent from the field and 32 percent beyond the arc. This was equal parts grit, execution and relentlessness. Most of the little things were done well, some of them splendidly.

The Warriors through the 82-game regular season and the first two games of the postseason didn’t always respect the ball. They did in Game 3, committing only 12 turnovers, off which the Kings scored seven points.

“We’ve shown that despite our self-inflicted wounds with turnovers, and giving up offensive rebounds, that we are capable of beating that team any night,” said Curry, who dropped a game-high 36 points. “It’s just nice to have something to show for it now.”

These Warriors haven’t consistently been able to summon a forceful effort on defense, but they did in Game 3. They did everything from smothering De’Aaron Fox (9 of 22 from the field, 3 of 9 from deep, four turnovers) to making sixth man Malik Monk (1 of 9, 0 of 4) disappear to diving on the floor several times for loose balls.

Still be determined is whether this serious defense — which came with elite defenders Draymond Green and Gary Payton II sidelined — remains limited to games at Chase. Fact is, the Warriors generally have been terrific on defense at home and atrocious on the road.

“This is what we’re supposed to do,” Curry said. “Being down those two guys who bring so much to our defensive side and just our identity as a whole, we had to have guys step up. We obviously understand the consequences of if we lost tonight, and nobody wanted to feel that.

“So, it was a very focused effort, great energy from everybody who set foot on the floor. Even just like the defensive numbers were amazing tonight, and might be a surprise considering Draymond and GP2 were out.”

A surprise, yes, but necessary under the circumstances.

The Warriors won the rebounding battle (59-53) in a slugfest, won the race for second-chance points (24-12), won the assists-to-turnovers ratio contest (31-12 to 21-15) and tied in number of free throws shot.

This was the Warriors playing a such complete game in other phases that they weren’t sabotaged by their sub-mediocre shooting.

“Tonight was about taking care of the glass and taking care of the ball, and our half-court defense was really good,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Our guys were playing with a lot of energy, and eventually, that’s going to lead to offense, just getting out in transition. And I thought we finally broke through offensively in the second half.

“But the game went the way it did because we took care of the ball.”

RELATED: How Warriors made up for Draymond, GP2 absences in Game 3 win

The Warriors don’t always play as if every moment, every possession, every rebound and every loose ball matters. They did in Game 3. And they were rewarded.

Operation Desperation was successful for Golden State. This now has the makings of a highly competitive Western Conference playoff series between the ambitious Kings and the proven Warriors.

Game 4 will dictate whether it stays that way.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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