What’s developing into one of the most impressive point guard duels in recent playoff history continues on Sunday when Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors look to even their Western Conference first-round series against De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings in San Francisco.
Curry scored 36 points, half on 3-pointers, in a 114-97 home win on Thursday night that got Golden State on the best-of-seven scoreboard after Fox had gone for 38 and 24 points in a pair of wins in Sacramento.
The Warriors also received a rare 20-rebound, nine-assist outing from Kevon Looney in the Game 3 win, during which the Golden State center also drew the majority of the defensive assignment on Kings co-star Domantas Sabonis because of Draymond Green’s one-game suspension.
Green is eligible to return to action for Game 4.
There have been no knockdowns or stompings in the Fox-Curry matchup. Just a lot of points, Curry leads the series at 31.1 per game and Fox is second at 25.3, and a bunch of Curry 3-pointers (15) and Fox assists (24).
The NBA hasn’t seen many point guard postseason matchups over the years in which both averaged 25 or more points over the course of a series. In the first round last year, for example, only two point guards, Curry and Jalen Brunson, went for 25 or more per game, and they weren’t head-to-head.
While Curry has spread out his points in the three games, Fox has done much of his best work in the fourth quarter. He had 15 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter of Game 1, then 11 of his 24 in the final period of Game 2.
He shot a cumulative 10-for-18 overall and 4-for-5 on 3-pointers in those difference-making performances in three- and eight-point wins.
But the Warriors put the clamps on Fox in the fourth quarter of Game 3, limiting him to two points on 1-for-4 shooting. He missed both his 3-point attempts.
The Kings had their greatest success against Curry in Game 2, harassing him into 3-for-13 shooting on 3-pointers, including 0-for-5 in the fourth period.
Fox provided a glimpse into the Kings’ game plan for guarding the Warriors, Curry in particular.
“How physical we are with them will be key. You can’t let them dictate the way that they want to play,” Fox said. “They do so much freelancing that it just comes down to how physical we are with them and just not letting them move freely throughout the court.”
As the Kings have done with defensive ace Davion Mitchell sharing defensive duties on Curry, the Warriors have tried multiple defenders on Fox.
Golden State’s defensive anchor, Green admitted his team was surprised at Fox’s 4-for-8 shooting on 3-pointers in Game 1. He has since gone 5-for-19.
“You gotta give up something,” Green admitted. “There are things that you live with and things that you won’t. And what you can’t live with is De’Aaron Fox being a one-man fast break; you can’t live with him getting to the paint every possession. Those are tough things to deal with.”
Game 5, already assured, is scheduled for Wednesday night in Sacramento.
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