Unsurprisingly, the Golden State Warriors outplayed the Sacramento Kings while two-time Stephen Curry was on the floor in Game 1 of their first-round series on Saturday at Golden 1 Center.
The defending champions were exactly 11 points better across Curry’s 37 minutes and 25 seconds of gametime. Unfortunately for the Warriors, and in a semi-common theme across the last decade, they were unable to survive the non-Curry minutes.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr won’t be tempted to increase Stephen Curry’s minutes in Game 2 or beyond against the Sacramento Kings.
Golden State were -14 in less than 12 minutes with Curry off the floor, including a game-defining stretch across the late third and early fourth-quarter. The reigning Finals MVP left the game with 2:18 remaining in the penultimate period, with the Warriors holding an eight-point advantage. By the time he returned with 9:20 left in the ball game, the Kings had gained all the momentum and a four-point lead of their own.
That 12-point turnaround was crucial in a game Golden State ended up losing by just three in the final minute. Now down 1-0 ahead of an increasingly important Game 2, many are fans are now questioning whether Curry’s game time needs to increase.
Speaking on Sunday ahead of Game 2, Steve Kerr said he won’t be tempted to play his superstar more going forward, and rather that his team simply needs to be better in the minutes where Curry is off the floor.
"“48 hours in between Games 1 and 2, I think he played 38 minutes. We just didn’t do a very good job while he was out. I don’t regret resting him… Playing Steph 40+ minutes isn’t the answer, the answer is handling the non-Steph minutes better.”"
Curry was quiet but effective over the first few periods, before distinctly being the engine that kept his team in the game during the fourth. The 35-year-old had 13 of his 30 points over the final eight minutes, making five of his eight shots including three of six from three-point range.
Curry missed a decent look from beyond the arc to tie the game at the buzzer, sending the home crowd into eruption as Sacramento secured their first playoff win since 2006. Curry and Golden State will be out to avenge the loss when Game 2 tips off at 7:00 pm PT on Monday night.