Draymond Green insists the Golden State Warriors have a new challenge, even if he won’t be around to get it started, when the defending champions attempt to take the first step toward digging themselves out of a 2-0 hole against the Sacramento Kings in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series Thursday night.
Green was ejected for stomping on the chest of Kings rival Domantas Sabonis in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 114-106 loss in Sacramento.
The defeat has left Golden State down 2-0 for the first time in the Steve Kerr era, during which four of the previous six trips to the playoffs have resulted in championships.
“It’s exciting, right? It’s a new challenge,” Green claimed before he was informed that he would be suspended for Game 3. “I was thinking that: This is something we haven’t seen yet. And we’ve conquered all the rest of them, so why not go conquer this one? It will be a lot of fun.”
Fellow Warriors veterans Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry offered similarly optimistic views of Golden State’s first 2-0 playoff deficit since 2007.
“I don’t feel pressure,” Thompson insisted. “I see an opportunity to protect home court and make adjustments. We’ve been through it all. We’re not accustomed to hitting the panic button.”
Added Curry, “That’s the old saying: The series doesn’t start until somebody wins on the other team’s home floor. If we want to get ourselves back into it, we’ve got to start with a focused effort on Game 3 at home.”
The Warriors also will host Game 4 on Sunday before the best-of-seven series, if necessary, would return to Sacramento for Game 5 next Wednesday. The Kings hold the home-court advantage in the series by virtue of being seeded third in the West, whereas the Warriors are sixth.
Golden State played nine games without Green in the regular season and won just three of them. However, they went 2-0 at home in those games.
Green will be sitting out a playoff game for just the second time in his career. The last time that happened was when he was suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a series the Warriors led 3-1 at the time before losing the final three games.
The Kings need just two more wins to move on. They have prevailed in Games 1 and 2 despite being outshot 47.7 percent to 45.3 percent overall and 32.2 percent to 30.0 percent on 3-pointers.
Their advantages have included a 91-82 margin in rebounds, including 29-18 on the offensive boards; a 47-36 edge in free-throw points, getting 61 attempts to Golden State’s 45; and having committed eight fewer turnovers (35-27).
While winning those categories has been enough so far, Kings coach Mike Brown, the 2022-23 NBA Coach of the Year, would like to see his offense, which led the NBA in scoring in the regular season, kick into a higher gear.
“We keep talking pace, pace, pace, pace,” he said. “We gotta keep playing fast, fast, fast, fast, even faster than (Game 2), because that’s the way we play. We generate a lot of points by just pushing the ball.”
As a result of what’s being called a bruised sternum, the Kings have listed Sabonis as questionable for Game 3.
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