Kendra AndrewsESPN3 minutes to read
Sacramento, California – For the second year in a row, the Golden State Warriors entered the playoffs on the verge of finally becoming a full team again. Last season, the team’s MVP was the running back. This season, it was their X Factor.
Andrew Wiggins returned Saturday night for Game 1 of the Warriors’ first-round series against the Sacramento Kings, bringing Golden State back to what it considers to be the missing piece of the puzzle despite losing Game 1.
“When you go through all the decisions to put a slate together, all the pieces have to fit,” said Stephen Curry. “It’s a big part of everything we do. When you go into a season you want to be as healthy as possible because that’s how all the pieces are supposed to fit. We haven’t had it in a very long time and we’ve tried to take over the fort. Now we look backwards “.
Saturday was Wiggins’ first game since February 13, after he missed two months due to a family matter. Even with the extended break, Wiggins appeared to be comfortable.
In 28 minutes, he finished with 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting and four blocked shots, including three in the first half—the most tied for any half of his career. The plan was to have Wiggins play the closing five to six minutes of each quarter, and the rest in the top of the next period, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Kerr did not indicate if this would be Wiggins’ plan for Game 2.
“It’s great to have him back,” Kerr said. “You know, we’re all with him out there. Our team seems to make sense with Wiggs back. I thought he looked really good. The first half was great, in the second half he was maybe struggling a bit, which is to be expected, considering he hasn’t played in a game since Over two months. It’s been great.”
Klay Thompson added, “I’m so proud of Wiggs. To miss three months of NBA basketball and do what he did tonight is impressive.
And just as the Warriors brought Curry off the bench when he made his first-round comeback against the Nuggets last season, Wiggins came off the bench against the Kings.
It was the first time he had come off the bench in the 662 games played in his eight-season career — including the regular season and playoffs.
“It’s hard to deal with your feelings because there’s so much adrenaline, so much anxiety to get back down to earth,” Carey said. “The only thing you have is experience and knowing what that atmosphere is like. … You can go to the memory bank to see what you can expect and build confidence from there. … Then you take that momentum and turn it into more energy for Game 2.”
Wiggins said he was relieved after Saturday’s game. As he walked to the press conference room, he said he was tired, but his body didn’t feel windy or unwell. During the game, his instincts and physical skills were there. What was missing was his shot – he went 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
With 10.8 seconds left and Golden State down by one, Thompson began driving into the hoop and pulling defenders with him. He kicked the ball into the left corner, where Wiggins was waiting unmarked.
Wiggins fired the shot but hit the front of the rim. Even with that miss, the Warriors had no trouble picking a shot.
“I’ll take this shot every day of the week,” Thompson said.
Kerr added, “Take that shot all day. Left corner 3, that’s where it is.”
Other than that, Kerr criticized some of the attempts made by the Warriors against the Kings. But Golden State doesn’t think the shot selection was the reason we let Game 1 slip away.
Sacramento grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and scored 21 points at second chance, most of them in the second half. At the end of the third quarter, the Kings’ offensive glass work helped fuel a 15-4 run to come back from a 10-point deficit. They entered the fourth quarter by one. The Warriors say that offensive rebound was the game’s defining stat.
Heading into Game 2, the overhaul is the major tweak the Warriors are looking forward to making.
“We thrive in those situations,” Curry said of making game-to-game adjustments. “It’s very different from the regular season because you’re playing the same team and that little bit of an advantage, mentally, seeing the game and making those adjustments – it’s important. … There’s a lot of confidence for us in what it looks like for us.”
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