The Sacramento Kings should have won against a short-handed Golden State Warriors in Game 3. Instead, they could not get much going and squandered a shot to go up 3-0 against the defending champions in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Here we will look at the three players to blame for the Kings' ugly Game 3 loss to the Warriors in the 2023 Playoffs.
On Sunday, the Kings will be up against a very challenging opponent, the Golden State Warriors, in Game 4 of the season. This comes after a 114-97 defeat in Game 3 on Thursday, which reduced their series lead to 2-1. Although it's a tough task, head coach Mike Brown is confident that the solution is simple, and they can leave San Francisco with a 3-1 lead after Sunday's game.
“We gotta come out, and we gotta be more physical than what we did tonight — on both ends,” Brown said.
Mike Brown identified two critical areas where the Kings need to improve to win Game 4. Firstly, they need to do a better job on offensive rebounds as the Warriors had 18 compared to the Kings' 12. This led to a 24-12 advantage in second-chance points. Additionally, the Kings must limit turnovers as they gave away possession 15 times. That led to 22 points for the Warriors. In contrast, the Warriors only gave away possession 11 times, leading to just seven points for the Kings.
In the first two games of the series in Sacramento, the Kings controlled these hustle stats. They scored 41 points off Warriors turnovers compared to Golden State's 14. The Kings also had a 29-18 advantage in offensive rebounds.
However, Mike Brown acknowledges that it is not just about fixing these two areas. He believes that it is essential to get the ancillary players involved in the game. These include Keegan Murray, who is a rookie starting forward, and the second unit featuring Malik Monk, Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis, Trey Lyles, and Alex Len. These players combined for only six out of 32 shots (19 percent) in Game 3, which is an area that the Kings need to improve to win.
Recall that the Kings' shooting performance in the first two games of the series was already a major concern. They were unable to score well, and the Warriors couldn't take advantage of it. However, the shooting performance got even worse in the third game, which was played away from their home court, the Golden One Center.
The Warriors' defense was much better in the third game, but the Kings also missed many open 3-point shots. This spotlights a worrying trend for the young team. They finished the game shooting 38 percent from the field and a dismal 23 percent from beyond the arc.
Another issue the Kings faced was the Warriors' improved defensive performance against De'Aaron Fox. Golden State's Andrew Wiggins successfully disrupted more than in the previous two games. Although Fox led the Kings in scoring with 26 points, he did so less efficiently, shooting only 9 out of 22.
Now, let's look at the players to blame for the Kings' ugly Game 3 loss to the Warriors.
1. Malik Monk
Malik Monk was deservedly in the running for Sixth Man of the Year this season. In this series, however, we've observed diminishing returns from the former Kentucky Wildcat. Recall that Monk scored 32 points in Game 1. He then followed that up with a respectable 18 points in Game 2. The Kings won both games at home.
In Game 3, however, Monk went ice cold. He shot just 1-of-9 from the field en route to scoring only four points in 25 minutes. He missed all four of his three-point attempts and just didn't give much on offense against the Dubs.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the Kings urgently need Monk to rediscover his scoring punch for Game 4. If he goes cold again from the floor, the Kings' second unit just won't be threatening against the hungry Warriors.
2. De'Aaron Fox
De'Aaron Fox led the Kings with 26 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out nine assists. In many respects, we can't blame Fox for the Kings' Game 3 loss.
"De'Aaron Fox has developed a killer way to finish games because he gets to his spots with speed… Teams have been setting their defense trying to stop this guy in the 4th quarter for months now & they cannot do it."
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 20, 2023
However, take note that he shot 9-of-22 from the field and had four turnovers. That was his worst shooting clip of this series so far and the highest number of sing-game turnovers for him since mid-March.
Have the Warriors solved the Fox riddle? We're not sure, but the Kings need their leader to be more efficient out there on the floor. Game 4 might be sort of a major watershed moment for Fox if he can bounce back and lead his team to a 3-1 series lead.
3. Keegan Murray
Game 3 was the third consecutive dismal showing for youngster Keegan Murray in his first-ever postseason appearance. He only managed six points on 2-of-7 shooting after scoring four points in the previous two games of the series combined.
Keep in mind that the 22-year-old is the sole rookie in either team's rotation. Murray went 1-of-5 from distance in Game 4 after breaking an NBA rookie record for threes made in the regular season. In this series, he is now shooting 12.5 percent from beyond the arc and has reached a plateau. For Game 4, the Kings urgently need their star rookie to regain his own shooting touch.