By Mark Haynes | OBSERVER Correspondent
Two words NBA fans love to hear: Game 7.
That’s what we have scheduled for Sunday afternoon between De’Aaron Fox’s Sacramento Kings and Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors.
The most compelling series of the first round of the NBA playoffs got even better after the Kings overpowered the Warriors 118-99 Friday night in San Francisco behind a brilliant coaching performance by the NBA’s Coach of the Year, Mike Brown.
Although Brown gets most of the recognition for a game plan that played forward Trey Lyles at the center position more than usual, Brown decided to accentuate others for their contributions.
“I got two guys on my staff that drove me fricking crazy in our last meeting,” Brown said after Friday’s victory tied the series 3-3. “Robbie Lemons is our analytics coach. He was the one that kept beating my fricking head in to do this, do this, do this; and Luke Loucks. We were all on board with it, but those two guys were probably the most adamant, and not necessarily with Trey. But we all felt we wanted to go to Trey, mainly to keep shooters on the floor, touch the paint, and spray it.”
The new wrinkle in the rotation functioned just like Brown and his staff planned. It caught the Warriors off guard and led them to a Game 6 victory to stave off elimination. The Warriors’ 99 points are the fewest they’ve scored in a home playoff game since 2018 in a 99-91 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Guard Malik Monk came off the bench to lead the Kings in scoring with 28 points while Fox added 26 points and 11 assists. Rookie forward Keegan Murray played 45 minutes and had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Lyles had 12 points and nine rebounds and played 26 minutes.
It’s been an incredible series, and now it all comes down to one game. A game that determines if the Kings will start their vacation next week or play LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. Game 7 in front of a Sacramento crowd that’s been waiting for a moment like this for nearly two decades is the perfect time for something historic to happen.
“That’s part of the reason we bust our behind all year trying to get as good of a record as you can during the regular season,” Brown explained. “Hopefully, it will help benefit you in situations like this. We’re excited. We’re going to go back home for Game 7, we’re going to play in front of our fans, and our fans are going to be excited, and the town and the organization definitely deserve this. Now we’ve just got to go out there and try to get it done.”
Game 7 will be held at the Golden 1 Center Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.