By Mark Haynes | Special to The OBSERVER
The Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors share many things, but this was the first time they shared the hardwood in a playoff series.
Both have experienced the pain of long stretches of disappointing seasons, playing before sparse home crowds nightly, and much more. Hall of Famers Chris Webber and Mitch Richmond, and champions Matt Barnes and Harrison Barnes are among many players who played for each team. The newest shared element is this season’s NBA coach of the year, Mike Brown.
Before coming to the Kings, Brown was Steve Kerr’s lead assistant in the Bay Area. He was an integral part of the Warriors’ success, and his time with them played a role in his success with the Kings this season.
“I’ve been around a lot of great coaches and a lot of great situations, so you always try to lean on the experiences you’ve been through with other guys and in other situations to help your team grow, especially when we haven’t been in it together as a unit,” Brown said at a press conference. “I took a lot from Steve because I was with him these past six years, but there are other guys too, and experiences that I leaned on and shared with the team.”
Proximity also connects the Kings and Warriors, as less than 100 miles separate Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center and San Francisco’s Chase Center. Although there currently isn’t a rivalry between the teams, there is one between fan bases. Warriors superstar Stephen Curry noticed the extra chatter and thinks it’s great for basketball in Northern California. After Game 7 against the Kings, the two-time MVP explained what he enjoyed about the meeting with his neighboring team.
“Within a playoff series, you hear from both fan bases for all types of different reasons, whether it’s the geography or the game and people talking trash or the regular-season history,” Curry explained. “Two series and we’re playing California teams. It’s kind of dope to know there’s a little bit of history and connectivity within the different regions. But it doesn’t really manifest itself in the way that we approach the game or anything like that.”
The Warriors of the last decade have been the team the league tries to imitate. Their fast pace and three-point shooting have led them to four championships, and Brown duplicating that style in Sacramento resulted in the Kings having one of the best offenses in NBA history during the regular season. The Kings were the league’s highest-scoring team (120.7), followed by Curry’s Warriors (118.9).
It was the Kings’ first trip back to the playoffs in nearly two decades and all-star De’Aaron Fox’s first trip to the postseason. So as much as a victory over their counterpart would’ve been satisfying for the Kings, measuring themselves next to the champs was beneficial.
“We learned a lot and you just try to build off that,” Fox said. “It’s a lot of our first times in the postseason. You got a taste of it. You got to feel what it was like to play against a team who’s a championship contender just about year in and year out. You take that and you build off of it.”
Reaching new heights yearly and building off past success started the Warriors’ dynasty. If the Kings can continue to take from that blueprint, raising banners could be the next thing the franchises have in common.