Friday, June 21 2024

How Warriors stack up against Kings in NBA play-in game originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – The guessing game is over. After weeks of wondering where the Warriors would wind up in the Western Conference standings, who they would play following the regular season and in what building, they’ll now pack a seven-game series into one suitcase for a single elimination NBA Play-In Tournament game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night back at Golden 1 Center.

Two Northern California rivals duking it out to extend their season or watch the rest of it from home. On one side you have the No. 10-seeded Warriors trying to prove they’re still the older brother that can make a playoff push despite the daunting road ahead. On the other side, the No. 9-seeded Kings will look to put the past away, stand up to their bullies and keep writing their own story.

How do these two teams stack up against each other, and what can we learn from their previous four regular-season games?

They finished having the same exact regular-season records, 46-36, for a reason. The Warriors and Kings split their four-game series, with Golden State winning the first two contests and Sacramento coming out as victors in the last two.

The Warriors’ two wins were by a total of nine points. The Kings’ two wins were both by one point each.

“We know them well, they know us well, so it won’t be any surprises,” Draymond Green said Sunday after the Warriors’ 123-116 win against the Utah Jazz.

Despite the Warriors’ first loss to the Kings stemming from a 24-point blown lead, how close these games were in the end can’t be overstated. The Warriors averaged 120 points over four games, and the Kings averaged 118.3. A major factor very well could be the 3-point line.

Steph Curry isn’t the only Warrior who enjoyed plenty of success shooting threes against the Kings this season.

Curry averaged 31.0 points playing the Kings in the regular season on 52.5-percent shooting (42 of 80) and shot 45.7 percent (21 of 46) from long distance. The Warriors as a team made 43.3 percent of their threes against the Kings, compared to Sacramento making only 35.9 percent of their treys on the Warriors’ defense.

The Kings were the second-worst NBA team at guarding the 3-point line this season, with their opponents making threes at a 39.1-percent clip, and the Warriors being the seventh-best 3-point shooting team this season at 38.0 percent.

Plus, the Kings are without two players who can heat up beyond the arc. Malik Monk has been out since March 29 due to a sprained MCL, and Kevin Huerter underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in late March. Both players saw their 3-point percentages dip this season, but Monk was a top Sixth Man of the Year candidate before going down to injury and averaged 19.0 points per game against the Warriors last year in the playoffs.

In much different ways than Curry, Warriors high-flying 21-year-old Jonathan Kuminga also can be a factor from deep. While he did make 40 percent (4 of 10) of his 3-point attempts against the Kings this season, it’s his ability to attack the rim that can open the 3-point line for Curry, Klay Thompson and others. The Kings don’t have a rim-protector to neutralize Kuminga’s explosiveness.

But can the Warriors neutralize Kings stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis in Sacramento?

“Just knowing you always got to put two bodies in front of him to stop him,” Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski said Sunday when asked about Fox. “If we want to win, that’s something we got to do for 48 minutes.”

Podziemski could be one of a handful of players who might take on the task of guarding Fox at times. Kuminga will be in that mix, as will Green and Andrew Wiggins. Gary Payton II’s health after missing the last three games because of left calf tightness also is imperative.

Green and Kevon Looney were extremely bothersome for Sabonis throughout the first round last year. Fellow rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis provides a whole new element as a vertical floor-spacer and shot-blocking threat. Whether it’s a four-time champion like Curry, Green or Thompson, or a rookie like Podziemski and Jackson-Davis, the message two days before what should be a fascinating fight shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody.

Leave everything on hardwood, don’t walk away from the final buzzer with any regrets.

“It’s going to be one of those games where we have to leave it all on the floor,” Wiggins said. “Every game we’ve had with them has been a battle to the end – a physical, competitive game. So it’s definitely going to be a hard-fought game that we got to leave everything on the floor.”

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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