NBA World reacts to Steph Curry’s epic 50-point Game 7

You expect the greatest players to turn up when the season is on the line. And Stephen Curry did just that on Sunday… and then some. The Golden State Warriors kept their title defense alive by defeating the Sacramento Kings 120-100 in Game 7 at Golden 1 Center. And, of course, Curry set the tone for Golden State.

Curry scored 50 points (30 in the second half) on a career-high 38 field goal attempts in one of the most commanding performances of his famous career. It was the most points scored in a Game 7 ever. The victory also sets up a second-round confrontation between LeBron and Steph.
Curry has had too many spectacular games in his career to count, but this one had to be special, especially given the Warriors’ problems on the road this season.
After a game like that, the entire NBA world had to pause and show appreciation for Steph.
When the Warriors needed him the most, superstar Steph Curry placed the team on his back and guided them to a 120-100 victory over the Kings! This was one of his best performances ever, with 50 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists!

The first postseason matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings produced an amazing seven-game series to determine which northern California team would face the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference semifinals.

The Warriors-Kings game was billed as an upstart club hoping to build on a breakout season versus an experienced squad loaded with championship experience looking to make another run to the NBA Finals. In the end, Golden State’s championship tenacity, combined with a historic performance from its transcendent star Stephen Curry, proved decisive on Sunday afternoon in Sacramento, as the Warriors won 120-100 to clinch the series on the road and extinguish the Kings’ victory beam for the season.

Here are five lessons from the Warriors’ victory in the opening round of the 2023 NBA playoffs

1. Curry scores a game-high 50 points in Game 7.

There isn’t much Stephen Curry has accomplished on the basketball court at this point in his career. On Sunday, he pulled together a performance that no other player in NBA history had: a 50-point effort in a winner-take-all Game 7, surpassing Kevin Durant’s 48-point performance against Milwaukee in 2021.
Curry was just unstoppable on Sunday, making seven 3-pointers on 18 attempts from long while also hitting shots from the mid-range, in the paint, and at the basket, finishing 13-for-20 on 2-point attempts.

There were pull-up jumpers, floaters in the lane, and finger rolls at George Gervin. Curry wasn’t just in his bag; he brought a whole suitcase’s worth of shots to score a playoff career-high 50 points with the season on the line. The Kings put multiple defenders at Curry — De’Aaron Fox, Terence Davis, Davion Mitchell, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, and Malik Monk — but none were able to slow him down.

Curry attempted nearly as many shots (20 on 52.6% shooting) as his teammates combined (23 on 37.1% shooting), as well as the whole Kings starting lineup (23 on 39.7% shooting).

“You could tell from the start that he wasn’t going to let us lose today, you could tell he was locked in, and when he’s locked in like that, he’s special,” Kevon Looney said.

“What an incredible all-time performance from Steph dropping 50 points in a Game 7,” Klay Thompson stated. “It’s the best [when Curry is on fire], especially when you’ve had a bad night as a team and no one shot it well except Steph.” The way he pushed us over the top is why he’s a two-time MVP and a Finals MVP. It just goes to demonstrate what he’s made of. He has nothing to prove anymore, but he continues to raise his game.”

The NBA family’s responses poured in with each of Curry’s fourth-quarter buckets, as he soared beyond next-round opponent LeBron James (45), Sacramento native Kevin Johnson (46), Luka Doncic (46), Dominique Wilkins (46), Sam Jones (47) and former teammate Durant (48).

2. Warriors attack again in the third quarter

The Kings led by two points at halftime after winning each of the first two quarters by a single point, led by Domantas Sabonis’ 16 points and a combined 18 points from Monk and Davis off the bench. But Curry had already reached 20 points and four 3-pointers, and Thompson was lurking because he couldn’t have another 1-for-10 shooting half.

The Warriors held it tight throughout the first half, preventing the Kings from going on a long run and energizing the crowd. Neither side led by more than six points in the first 24 minutes of play, with seven lead changes and five ties.

Down by two points to begin the second half, the Warriors were poised to launch one of their trademark third-quarter explosions. But it wasn’t just a flurry of 3-pointers (the Warriors were 4-for-12 from long range in the quarter). Instead, it was a flurry of offensive rebounds, more possessions, and a march to the foul line.

Over the span of the period, the Warriors built a double-digit lead while sucking the energy out of the Golden 1 Center. The Sacramento crowd was ready to erupt and propel their team to victory, but every offensive rebound and subsequent 3-pointer from Curry, or foul that resulted in Warriors free throws, evoked groans from the 18,000-plus in attendance.

“Steph got hot, we got a lot of good looks at the rim, we got to the free throw line, we missed a lot of free throws, but we were being physical, getting to the line, and that’s demoralizing for a defense,” Thompson said of the Warriors’ third-quarter performance.

3. Looney’s board work delivers once more.

Throughout the series, coaches Mike Brown and Steve Kerr delivered numerous statements in their pregame press conferences. Brown’s four Ps were always present: physicality, pace, poise, and possession. Kerr’s game consisted of regularly rebounding, guarding the ball, and winning the possession game.

At halftime, the Warriors had done an excellent job of preventing turnovers, which might have fueled Sacramento’s fast-paced offense. Golden State committed only five turnovers, which the Kings converted into four points. The turnover game was essentially a wash, with the Kings committing four mistakes for four Warriors points at the half.

In the first half, the Kings led 28-21 in rebounding, including 7-2 on the offensive glass. Both teams had six second-chance points at halftime, but the Kings didn’t capitalize.

In the third quarter, Kevon Looney dominated the glass. After eight rebounds (one offensive) in the half, Looney had 10 (seven offensive) in the third. Sacramento has struggled defensively all season, but after preventing the Warriors’ opening shots on several plays, they often failed to collect the defensive rebound. The Warriors are too good to waste second, third, and fourth possessions.

The Warriors led the Kings 30-16 in the third quarter, including 13-1 on the offensive glass. The Kings failed to score on their second chances in the first half, but the Warriors scored 11 in the third quarter.

4. The Kings’ season ends poorly

The Kings finally made the playoffs since 2006 this season, ending the NBA’s longest playoff drought. The Kings pushed the reigning champs to seven games before losing to Curry’s masterpiece on Sunday at the Golden 1 Center in the best playoff series of the first round.

The Kings are 0-4 in Game 7s in the Sacramento era, and while this one will hurt, this youthful team has a lot to build on as it seeks to start a playoff streak.

We had a lot of fun this year—the city, the fans, the arena—and especially at home we had a chance to do something spectacular, but we didn’t, so it hurts,” Sabonis said after Game 7. “What everyone is feeling now should motivate us to come back next year even better.”

5. Warriors must rapidly turn the page.

The Warriors will celebrate their victory tonight, but they must change their focus quickly since the conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers begin on Tuesday night at Chase Center (10 p.m. ET, TNT). The Warriors have a home-court advantage in the series as both the sixth-seeded Warriors and the seventh-seeded Lakers advanced out of the first round.

Once again, the Warriors will not have to leave the state of California to continue their championship defense. They’ll swap a 90-minute drive from San Francisco to Sacramento for a 90-minute trip from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

After dispatching a new playoff rival in the Kings in the first round, the Warriors will face a familiar face in LeBron James in the conference semifinals. From 2015 to 2018, the Warriors and James faced off in four consecutive NBA Finals, with Golden State winning three and Cleveland winning one. James, like the Warriors’ core four — Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala – entered the 2023 postseason looking for his fifth championship ring. Whose five-point drive will survive with a trip to the Western Conference finals at stake?

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