Three takeaways from first three Warriors-Kings regular-season games

Three keys from first three Dubs-Kings games this season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Sacramento Kings' starting lineup in their fourth and final regular-season game against the Warriors, a 119-97 Golden State win at Golden 1 Center on April 7, consisted of Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes and Alex Len.

Or in other terms, only two of their usual five starters were on the floor as Mike Brown sat four of his top five players with the Kings' playoff future virtually locked up. There wasn't much to learn from the Warriors' full squad, minus Andrew Wiggins, going up against the Kings' B Team at best.

The two Northern California rivals now will square off in the playoffs for the first time, starting Saturday in Sacramento. As we look forward to the marquee matchup, let's first look back at the first three games of the regular season between the Warriors and Kings. Why?

For the most part, the Warriors were whole, as were the Kings. The Warriors won the first two games, both at Chase Center, before falling in the third contest, this time in Sacramento. Context matters, though.

These three games came in the Warriors' first 13 of the season. They faced the Kings in their third game of the season, 11th game of the season and 13th game of the season. By the end of the 13th game, the Warriors were 5-8 and the Kings were 6-6. Neither looked like championship contenders, let alone teams that could make it out of the Western Conference.

At that time, Gary Payton II still was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers and had yet to make his season debut, and Murray came off the bench in the first of this four-game season series. Looking back at the first three games, though, three players in particular stand out.

Who Stops Steph Curry?

As always, everything begins with No. 30. Curry's worst of the three games unsurprisingly was in the loss. Here are his stats from that game: 27 points, 9-of-17 shooting, 3 of 9 from 3-point range, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, four turnovers.

Now, here are his averages for all three games: 35.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 58.7 percent shooting and 51.5 percent from deep. Between the three games, he had five quarters of scoring 10 or more points, including at least one in all three games.

Curry in the first battle, the Warriors' third game of the season, was extremely efficient with 33 points on 11-of-22 shooting, 7 of 12 on threes and a perfect 4 of 4 on free throws. By halftime, the Warriors already had scored 89 points. Curry was responsible for 28 of those after exploding in the second quarter.

In eight minutes, Curry scored 21 points in the second quarter. He was 6 of 8 from the field and 5 of 6 on 3-pointers in the period. Brown and the Kings tried everything they had. Sometimes, stopping Steph can become an impossibility.

He was even better in the second game, and this time, Curry truly played hero in front of Dub Nation. In 38 minutes, Curry propeled the Warriors to victory with 47 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and no turnovers. Curry scored in double figures in three out of four quarters in the Warriors' comeback win.

Curry was a perfect 5-of-5 shooting in the first quarter with 12 points. He added another 10 points in the second, giving him 22 after the first half. A light eight points in the third quarter set up a fourth quarter best saved by a cold-blooded killer: 17 points over 10 minutes.

With the score tied at 107 points apiece, Curry sent the Kings back to Sacramento. And he'll look to do the same over the span of this upcoming seven-game series.

Oh, Hello Andrew Wiggins

Speaking of the fourth quarter of the second showdown between Golden State and Sacramento this season, Andrew Wiggins was Curry's Robin, bringing flashbacks of what he provided in the playoffs last season. Wiggins played the entire fourth quarter. He didn't miss one shot, going 5 of 5 from the floor and 3 of 3 on 3-point attempts, scoring 13 points in the final quarter.

Wiggins played in all three of the Warriors' first three games against the Kings this season, and was their second-leading scorer in all three games. He averaged 25 points 55.6 percent shooting and 39.1 percent beyond the arc. But the Warriors don't need him to be their second-best scorer.

Klay Thompson can be that. So can Jordan Poole. Playing his first games in over two months, Wiggins will be asked to do the little things and let his scoring come to him.

That means strong defense, using his athleticism and crashing the glass for rebounds. Wiggins averaged 6.3 rebounds against the Kings this season, his third-best mark against teams he played multiple times. He can comfortably be the fourth scoring option and still be a major difference-maker in the series.

Old Friend Alert

The Kings are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Their team is ripe with players who have very little playoff experience, or none at all.

Then there's Harrison Barnes, who won the 2015 championship with the Warriors in his third year as a pro.

Barnes doesn't have to be the Kings' main scoring option. Or their second, or their third. Or some nights, he doesn't even have to be their fourth option. Maybe not even the fifth.

Still, Brown and the rest of the Kings could very well have to turn to Barnes as a leader before, during and after games against the team that took him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. His main impact might come off the court or on the sidelines. He just can't be as bad as he was against the Warriors this season.

The 30-year-old scored a total of 13 points in the first three Warriors-Kings games. He was held scoreless in the second game, put up four points in the first contest and nine in the third. His average plus/minus was a minus-8.3.

RELATED: Expectations for Wiggins in Warriors-Kings playoff series

Now back to that whole context thing. Barnes started the season off extremely slow, no matter who the opposition was. In the last month, he has averaged 14.7 points while shooting 37.1 on nearly four 3-point attempts per game. He isn't going to completely crumble, and he doesn't have to be the top dog.

But in a series where two teams are on opposite ends of experience, Barnes could hold a major key to Sacramento's success. Just ask Warriors fans about how that went the last time Barnes found himself under the playoff microscope.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast