What we learned as Dubs win wild Game 4, tie series vs. Kings


SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a cliché that an NBA playoff series doesn't begin until a team wins a road game. Let's buck that notion. 

Though both teams now are perfect on their home courts through the first four games, the Warriors made this a dogfight of a first-round NBA playoff series by beating the Kings 126-125 on Sunday at Chase Center in a victory that truly went down to the last seconds.

Steph Curry, though he pulled a Chris Webber in a fitting matchup at the worst time possible, was the ultimate difference-maker once again, scoring 32 points with five rebounds and four assists. Curry went 11 of 22 from the field and 5 of 11 on 3-pointers. This time, he had plenty of help.

Klay Thompson (26) and Jordan Poole (22) each scored more than 20 points. Andrew Wiggins was extremely active with 18 points and eight rebounds, and Kevon Looney came down with 14 rebounds himself. The Warriors now are 11-2 in playoff games Wiggins has 11 or more rebounds, and Looney has the game on lock down low right now.

The back-and-forth battle featured 19 lead changes. The difference was one point. Each team countered each other, and the Warriors found a way to last longer.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors' Game 4 win.

Surprise Starting Lineup

Draymond Green was back after serving his one-game suspension, but had to wait his turn to be on the court. Steve Kerr surprised many by sticking with the same starters as the Warriors' Game 3 win, despite Green's return.

The group of Curry, Poole, Thompson, Wiggins and Looney played exactly six minutes together Thursday night. They were a plus-7 in the span, outscoring the Kings 17-10 over 15 possessions. 

It worked again, with spacing being a clear advantage for the Warriors.

Kerr's starting five played 12 minutes together and were a plus-6, outscoring the Kings 33-27. As a group, they went 13 of 22 from the field, 8-of-14 shooting 2-pointers and 5-of-8 shooting 3-pointers.

Draymond's Return

Prior to Sunday's matinee, Green had started 132 consecutive playoff games. With the Warriors down 15-14, Green, and everything that he brings, checked in at the 6:38 mark in the first quarter. Within one minute of his return, Draymond and De'Aaron Fox were given technical fouls.

To no surprise, Green's energy level was off the charts. Channeling a bull in a china shop, he was roaring to make things happen for his teammates and get Dub Nation into the battle as well. Green played 12-and-a-half minutes in the first, scoring eight points with three rebounds and three assists. 

Down by four points at halftime, Kerr decided to replace Poole with Green to start the second half. That decision also worked out perfectly for the Warriors.

They outscored the Kings 37-23 in the third quarter, a 14-point advantage that gave them a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Many of the issues that plagued the Warriors in the first two quarters were fixed in the third. And Green was a big reason why.

Over 33 minutes off the bench, Green produced his 59th double-double in his playoffs career. He had 12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block. Green also was a plus-8 in plus/minus.

The Warriors' usual starting five was a plus-11 in 12:50 together, outscoring the Kings 38-27.

Second-Half Switch

Not only did the Warriors have Green to open the third quarter, they made the needed adjustments to even the series. When it comes to hustle stats, it was a night-and-day change from one half to the other. 

In the first half, the Kings attempted 13 more shots than the Warriors. They had six more offensive rebounds (7-1) and also six more second-chance points (9-3). That changed in the final 24 minutes of the game.

The Warriors had four more second-chance points than the Kings in the third quarter and three more offensive rebounds, a period that gave them a double-digit cushion going into the fourth quarter.

RELATED: Klay drains buzzer-beater to cap Warriors' third-quarter surge

The Warriors in the second half took one more shot than the Kings, had two more offensive rebounds than the Kings but one fewer second-chance point. The recipe for success is clear. Green is a major factor in that category. 

Now, it's up to the Warriors to make sure they can sustain this focus and take care of the Kings in what has become a best two-out-of-three series.

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