After building a double-digit lead during the third quarter of their playoff opener against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, the Golden State Warriors had an opportunity to stomp on the collective throats of their opponents and take Game 1.
Instead, Steve Kerr‘s team finds itself in a 1-0 hole in its first-round series against De’Aaron Fox and Co. thanks to a dismal effort as the contest transitioned into its final period. In particular, it was the non-Steph Curry minutes that did the club in.
From the time Curry checked out of the game at the 2:18 mark of quarter No. 3 to his return with 9:20 left to play, the Kings outscored the Dubs 23-11 to put themselves in the lead. Afterward, the Kings outexecuted Kerr’s crew down the stretch to secure a 126-123 win at Golden 1 Center.
Warriors fans were understandably peeved at the suboptimal start to the series, with some taking aim at Kerr specifically for his game management and rotations. For his part, though, ex-Warrior and hardwood analyst Richard Jefferson was having none of it on his Twitter feed.
Richard Jefferson Claps Back at Warriors Fans Who Criticized Steve Kerr Following Game 1 Loss to Kings
Of particular concern to one fan was Kerr’s decision to rest Curry at various points throughout the game. They observed that the Dubs were overwhelmingly positive when Steph was in the game and, well, not so when he was on the bench. And those numbers are indisputable, as Golden State was plus-11 with their cornerstone and minus-14 without him by night’s end.
Wrote the fan in question about the phenomenon: “Great job at killing our momentum once again you overrated [clown emoji] @SteveKerr.”
That tweet immediately called Jefferson into action, prompting the baller-turned-ESPN pundit to point out the obvious flaw with the fan’s logic.
“When do you think he should get a break? Also, any of the other champions on the court to blame or just Steve for not playing him 48?” wondered Jefferson.
Other fans chimed in as well, but Jefferson clearly had no time or patience for the Kerr slander.
“Thanks for the in-depth analysis. 4 championships and 6 Finals. Who you going to get that has a better record? Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach?” Jefferson tweeted at another fan. “Who you want. Dont forget the success you didn’t have before him. Any chips before him?”
Warriors Lose Key Battle in Game 1 vs Kings
Entering the contest, it was clear that the Warriors would have their hands full with a Kings offense that ranked among one of the greatest in NBA history. Their two-point conversion rate of 58.6% was the best by any group in the Association’s annals. In turn, their offensive rating of 118.4 also established a new all-time record.
During the regular season, Mike Brown’s squad was particularly adept at capitalizing on opportunities closer to the basket, and it was more of the same on Saturday.
After some initial struggles, the Kings shot nearly 52% on attempts inside of the three-point line during the second half, and they brutalized the Warriors down low throughout the game, winning the paint-points battle 60-44.