SACRAMENTO, Calif. – After four NBA titles and two more trips to the Finals in the past eight seasons, the Golden State Warriors aren't about to get flustered by one loss in a best-of-seven series.
The Sacramento Kings struck first in the first playoff meeting between the Northern California neighbors and have the lead in the series headed into Game 2 on Monday night.
“You just stay calm in the face of adversity,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “You don’t panic when it doesn’t go your way and just be yourself. If you do those three things, it will be great.”
The Warriors have done that well over the years, building a dynasty around the core of Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
The Kings are in new territory, having made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and used that emotion from their success-starved fans to fuel a late-game push that led to a 126-123 victory behind a 38-point effort from De'Aaron Fox.
The Warriors struggled to keep Fox out of the paint in the second half, sent Malik Monk to the foul line 14 times and missed a franchise playoff-record 34 attempts from 3-point range. But coach Steve Kerr had another area that was his biggest concern: Sacramento's 17 offensive rebounds that led to 21 second-chance points.
“You can pick apart the game and there’s always going to be stuff that you can do better here or there,” Kerr said. "But when it comes down to it, you throw the schemes out the window, throw the strategy out the window. It comes down to who’s going to get the ball. Who’s going to get the long rebounds and loose balls. They did that much better than we did and that’s why they won.”
Kings coach Mike Brown, who spent the last six seasons as an assistant to Kerr on the Warriors, knows the task against a playoff-tested team like Golden State only gets more difficult as the series progresses.
“It’s not going to get any easier,” Brown said. “It’s not going to stay the same. It’s going to get a lot harder because the more games you win and your opponent loses, the desperation starts kicking in a little bit. They’re NBA champions. They’ve been through it all and they’re not going to lay down at any time in this series.”
NETS AT 76ERS
Philadelphia leads 1-0. Game 2, 7:30 p.m. EDT, TNT
— NEED TO KNOW: The Nets have lost seven straight playoff games after falling 121-101 in the opener at Philadelphia. The 76ers set a franchise record with 21 made 3-pointers.
— KEEP AN EYE ON: Offensive rebounding. Led by five offensive rebounds from P.J. Tucker, the Sixers controlled the glass. They had 14 offensive rebounds in all and outscored Brooklyn 21-3 in second-chance points.
— INJURY WATCH: Philadelphia's James Harden was slowed by an Achilles injury late in the season but looked sharp in the series opener with 23 points and 13 assists.
— PRESSURE IS ON: Brooklyn's Mikal Bridges. Bridges kept the Nets in the game early, making 10 of 16 shots for 23 points in the first half. But he scored only seven points in the second half and will need a more complete game if Brooklyn is going to keep up in this series.
WARRIORS AT KINGS
Sacramento leads 1-0. Game 2, 10 p.m. EDT, TNT
— NEED TO KNOW: The Warriors lost the opener of a playoff series for just the fourth time in 25 postseason series since Kerr became coach in the 2014-15 season. Golden State followed up those Game 1 losses with wins the previous three times: against the Celtics in the 2022 Finals, the Raptors in the 2019 Finals and the Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Warriors haven't fallen behind 2-0 in a playoff series since the second round in 2007 against Utah.
— KEEP AN EYE ON: Kings bench. Sacramento got great production from its bench players, with Monk's 32 points the most in franchise history for a reserve in a playoff game and Trey Lyles adding 16 points. Alex Len even had four points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot in 12 effective minutes.
— INJURY WATCH: Andrew Wiggins provided a big boost for Golden State in his first game in more than two months. He had 17 points, three rebounds and four blocked shots in 28 minutes and could play even more in Game 2. ... Warriors guard Jordan Poole is listed as questionable with a sprained left ankle.
— PRESSURE IS ON: Domantas Sabonis. The Kings managed to win the opener with little production from their most important big man. Sabonis struggled against Kevon Looney and Green and shot just 5 for 17 (29.4%) from the floor in his worst shooting performance of the season. Sacramento probably can't afford another off night offensively from Sabonis if the Kings want to take a 2-0 series lead.