The champion is not dead. The Warriors have shown why they have made a name for themselves in recent NBA history. Golden State defeated the Sacramento Kings (114-97) at home this Thursday. The team has left a situation that was unknown to it, since it had never been down two games in a series of playoffs since Stephen Curry wore the San Francisco team jersey. The point guard, twice the best player in the league, led his team to victory with 36 points. Golden State continues to defend its title. On Sunday they will have a new opportunity to even things out.
Golden State was without Draymond Green tonight, who was suspended after Monday’s game after stomping on Domantas Sabonis when he was on the ground (and who was booed tonight at Chase Center). The unsportsmanlike conduct of the controversial forward frustrated the possibility that the Warriors had the trio that has put them in six of the last eight finals. Without Green in the stadium (Gary Payton II was also absent) and with Klay Thompson contributing 13 points on the night, the onus fell on Curry, who had six 3-pointers, six rebounds and three assists. Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points and Kevon Looney, who replaced Green on the court, grabbed 20 rebounds and nine assists on a great night in which the team was never behind on the scoreboard.
The Kings, who are playing their first playoffs In more than 15 years, they saw their offensive power limited, which was enough to finish them above Golden State in the West table. But that is ancient history. De’Aaron Fox had 26 points and Sabonis 15.
Sacramento coach Mike Brown was unanimously named Wednesday. coach of the year in the NBA. It’s the second time Brown has achieved recognition after the 2008-2009 season, when he led LeBron James’ Cavs to 66 wins and 16 losses. The Kings led the game in points per game this season, but tonight they had only 35% shooting efficiency, a percentage they’ll need to correct if they want to eliminate a team as experienced as Steve Kerr’s.
Phoenix takes the lead away
The Clippers suffered a significant loss at home tonight. Kawhi Leonard missed the series opener in Los Angeles with a sprained right knee, the same injury that has kept Paul George out. Despite two conspicuous absences, the Clippers struggled in Game 3 against Phoenix. The victory (129-124) went to the Suns, who have gone ahead 2-1 in the tie thanks to Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, who scored 71 points together tonight.
Booker is becoming the man of the tie. This Thursday he scored 45 points, with 18 of 29 shots. He grabbed seven rebounds and stole three balls in 44 minutes. Durant put 28. His role, above all, was to attract the double mark, with which Booker was able to shoot freely. “Sometimes I feel bad for Kev, who has become a very expensive lure,” Monty Williams, the Phoenix coach, joked tonight.
Leonard, who underwent surgery in July 2021 on the same knee that has affected him, watched the game from the bench. Despite being out, his team stayed in the fight. At halftime, they were only three points behind the Suns. Normal Powell stepped into the leadership role and was the man for the Clippers, putting in his career-best performance in a few playoffs (42 points, five rebounds and three assists). Russell Westbrook also had the best night of the series with 30 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists. The doctors, for the moment, have remained silent about the future of George and Leonard. Phoenix and Clippers will play Game 4 on Saturday night.
Philadelphia, one away from sweeping Brooklyn
Philadelphia continues to show its might in the East. Joel Embiid’s 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets on the road tonight (102-97). The victory puts the series 3-0 and puts them one victory away from the next stage (they will play again on Saturday in New York). The meeting was not without controversy. The sports press debated whether Embiid should have been ejected in the first quarter after kicking the Nets’ Nic Claxton in the crotch as he passed over the Sixers player, who was on the ground. The officials kept him on the court, giving the forward a chance to block a potential Brooklyn equalizer in the fourth quarter with just 8.8 seconds left. Brooklyn doesn’t win a game playoffs since Game 5 of the semifinals against the 2021 Bucks.
“There you could see what his game plan was. They tried to make me frustrated so they would send me off,” said the Cameroonian, who limped for a good part of the match. The one who was punished by arbitration was James Harden. He left the duel for a flagrant foul that many considered rigorous. His left hand slammed into an opponent’s genitalia as he charged the ball behind the line of three. Harden was left with 21 points. Tyrese Maxey led Philadelphia’s offense with 25.
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