The Kings run head first into Stephen Curry and lose, so Keegan Murray’s successful debut NBA season is done in the first round. Let’s go!
There’s not much to say about Sacramento’s 7-game defeat at the hands of the defending champion Golden State Warriors. This was a close series and sometimes the winner has the alpha of the series plus loads of championship pedigree and you don’t. Simple as that. Sometimes the Warriors hits you with a wave, and on occasion that wave turns into a tsunami and you have no hope. Then it’s made worse when it’s Stephen Curry leading that tsunami and he’s burying 3s in your face. His Game 7, a Game 7 record 50-point explosion on 38 shots (a career-high for Curry), is an all-timer and you just have to tip your cap. The Warriors have never lost a series to a Western Conference opponent under Steve Kerr (19-0, a whopper of a stat) and now they have a shot at a deep run and new life at 0-0 as they head into a series with the Los Angeles Lakers.
On Keegan - here’s a snapshot of his first playoff series:
Keegan had a really tough start to the series, making 1-8 3s through Game 3 and scoring 10 points, total. He came alive Game 4 and averaged 14.5 points per game and 8 rebounds the rest of the series. His best games were 4 and 6, going for 23 points and 7 rebounds in Game 4 (the real missed opportunity in this series for Sacramento - you must steal that game when it’s there), then notching a 15-12 double-double in Game 6, a 19-point road win in San Francisco to stave off elimination and force Game 7. During the Game 6 broadcast, Keegan drew the highest of high praise from Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, two guys who have coached in the league then broadcast games for decades. That’s a pretty lofty compliment, drawing praise from those two.
Best case, Keegan gets stronger this offseason, works on his handle, develops more offensively so he’s not just a “stand in the corner and maybe we’ll throw you a pass” player on this roster, and has a big second season like he did in college. This season at times felt like an expanded version of his first season at Iowa - big games, active, always making the correct play, then he’d have a quiet game or two (understandable given the personnel on that Iowa team, just as it is with this Kings team) before breaking out again. With this Kings team, too often he made the correct play by making the extra pass - you wouldn’t expect less from him - but they’d miss the shot, his teammates rarely reciprocated and that was a problem at times. Sometimes he needed to take the shot and be a little more selfish, given how he shot down the stretch. Game 5 is a great example - Keegan scored 10 points immediately in that game, shot 4-5 in the first quarter (2-2 from 3), then was frozen out and didn’t take a single shot after the 5:59 mark of the first quarter. No field goals the rest of the game? That can’t happen going forward. And apparently, he played most of the season with an injury to his left hand? (Keegan shoots with his right but is left-handed).
Keegan Murray said that he had an avulsion fracture (lower than a grade 1) and torn ligament in his left thumb early in the season. Very similar to Domantas Sabonis injury.— James Ham (@James_HamNBA) May 1, 2023
This was ultimately a successful season for the Kings and for Murray. This is a fun team to watch with a great core, and that includes Murray. This team will feature on national TV a lot next year, so get used to this team.