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Kings take commanding 2-0 lead as Warriors road struggles continue

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The NBA Playoffs so far have been blockbuster. And a series between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings that had fans appalled the moment it was set has been everything but disappointing.

To say the Kings have gone a long way is an understatement on steroids. Given that the last time they played past the regular season was when NBA players wore parachute-like jerseys, this crew being nicknamed the “Beam Team” is as fitting as it gets. Not only did they break a 16-year playoff drought– the longest in league history — they did it in such a convincing manner. A young team led by head coach Mike Brown boasted the best offense in the NBA this season to clinch a comfortable third seed in the playoffs.

Four presidents later, the Kings returned to be welcomed by the defending champions in Golden State. After opening the series with a 126-123 nailbiter win on Saturday, the Kings sealed game 2, 114-106 to take a 2-0 lead over the Dubs.

Defense was the key

While it is the clash between the league’s best offense and the best shooting backcourt that the game has seen, defense became the difference maker in game 2. Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins, whose defense ensured their title win in June, returned to the starting lineup on Monday night. The assignment was to contain De’Aaron Fox, who buried the Warriors with 38 points in game 1.

Wiggins and the Warriors’ defense held Fox down to 24 points, but Stephen Curry’s 28-point effort was just a bit short due to the Kings’ defense. Golden State’s 20 turnovers and Sacramento’s 14 were clear indicators of the pressure these teams put on each other. The Warriors tallied six steals and two blocks, while the Kings hustled for 11 and five of their own.

The key to Sacramento’s win on defense was eliminating Curry from the equation. While he was close to 30 points, Curry went 3/13 from three-point land where he is most dangerous. Sacramento successfully got in his space to force hard shots or force him to let go of the ball. On the other hand, Malik Monk had one of the most impressive 18-point performances, simply hitting shots when it mattered most.

Should the Warriors panic?

Down two-nothing, are the Warriors in trouble? Yes and no. While getting zeroed is never comfortable, everybody knows how badly Golden State struggles on the road this season with an 11-30 away record. However, they are 33-8 at home. And it is a given that you just can’t discount Curry and company.

This Warriors team is in unchartered territory, as the last time Golden State trailed 0-2 in a playoff series was in 2007. The “We Believe” Warriors lost that series to the Utah Jazz in five games.

No matter what happens, Sacramento has already proven that they are no placeholders. Though at points during game 2, they looked like the pressure had gotten the best of them, they were able to bounce back in a highly physical and competitive tug of war. They’ve shown that they are more than just their overwhelming attack– they can also lockdown on defense. Unlike the opposition, they have no trouble playing as visitors (25-16 away), and getting a 3-0 lead would put the defending champions on life support.

The series has shown us that these two sides are neck and neck with their offense and defense. In the end, the win will belong to whoever gets sicker of the chip on their shoulders. It could all be over on Sunday, or it can drag out as a seven-game slugfest. Either way, eyes are locked in on these Northern California neighbors.



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