In sports, there are some things you can set your watch to. A Tom Brady game-winning drive. An early upset in the NCAA Tournament. A dramatic offseason for Aaron Rodgers. And a playoff letdown from a team coached by Mike Brown. And no matter how it may appear that times have changed, some people/things just are who they are.
Sacramento didn’t have a chance in hell on Sunday in Game Seven against the Golden State Warriors. And it’s not just because Steph Curry had 50 points. It was because their head coach had hit his ceiling.
When the NBA announced that Brown won Coach of the Year — the second of his career — it was a no-brainer. In just his first year on the job, Brown took Sacramento to the postseason for the first time since 2006. When Brown won the award during the 2008-2009 season, it was because he had LeBron James, as the Cavs went 66-16. But then, when James and the Cavs needed Brown the most, he had nothing. That was the year that we were supposed to get Kobe vs. LeBron in the NBA Finals. But thanks to Brown’s inability to draw up anything on offense, the Cavs were upset by the Orlando Magic in six games after James averaged 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8 assists per contest.
“We had one goal and we came up short,” Brown said after that series.
Well, you could say the same for this one.
So close, yet so far
Never forget that the Kings had a 2-0 lead at one point and were being coached by a man that knew the Warriors better than anyone not in that locker, as Brown spent six seasons as an assistant with Golden State. Never forget that the Warriors were without Draymond Green due to suspension in Game 3. Also, don’t forget about Jordan Poole, who was terrible in this series, as he was proof that the Warriors vets were the only ones Steve Kerr could lean on due to Golden State’s “young stars” not being ready to step up in the postseason — Poole averaged 12 points per game and shot a dismal 25.7 percent from deep and 33.8 percent from the field. And then, with the series tied at 2-2, with Sacramento having homecourt for two of the possible last three games, the Kings not only lost Game 7 at home, but they also let the Warriors win two games in their building after Golden State had only won 11 road games all season.
Despite the Warriors being the Warriors and Steph Curry being Steph Curry, on paper, and in reality, the No. 3 Kings had everything in their favor to beat the No. 6 Warriors in this series — but they couldn’t get it done.
This is the other side of the coin when Brown is your head coach.
From his inability to get over the hump with James in Cleveland, to the debacle with the Lakers that led to him being dismissed after only five games in his second season on the job, to being re-hired, and re-fired with the Cavs, to yesterday, you can’t name a single time in his coaching career in which Brown has been able to win the game he needed to. And that’s not to say that this team was a legit title contender or wouldn’t have lost in the second round. But, it was all right there for the Kings to be playing the Lakers on Tuesday night — until it wasn’t.
It would be disrespectful to say Brown isn’t a good coach, given that he has won Coach of the Year, twice. However, it wouldn’t be disrespectful to say he’s not a championship coach, given that he doesn’t have any when he’s in charge. Like players, coaches also have strengths and weaknesses. For years, Brown has proven how good he is defensively, and this season he showed how much he’s grown on the other side of the ball as the Kings had one of the best offensive seasons in league history.
But, when it came down to it, Brown and the Sacramento Kings came up short. No one knows when Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors will bow out in these playoffs. But Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors knew they weren’t bowing out to Mike Brown.