Friday, June 21 2024

Warriors, Kings ready to reignite rivalry ahead of play-in showdown originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

For the second consecutive season, the Warriors and Kings will face off in the NBA postseason in what’s expected to be another epic Northern California showdown.

It will look a little different this year, though, as the No. 9 seed Kings will host the No. 10 seed Warriors in an NBA Play In-Tournament win-or-go-home matchup at 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday at Golden 1 Center. After the Warriors and Kings’ games on Sunday, the focus immediately shifted to Tuesday as players from both sides previewed the shrunken do-or-die rematch of last season’s first-round playoff series.

“They’ve definitely changed a little bit. We know this team pretty well, though, for the most part,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said after Golden State’s 123-116 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday. “They’re going to run a lot of things through [Domantas] Sabonis. Obviously, everything starts with the head of the snake, De’Aaron [Fox]. And everyone else gets theirs off those guys.

“They’re very much so a pattern team. They got their things that they want to get to. Going into the game, understanding that [and] the things that we’ll be trying to take away and not let them get to those patterns. But we know them well. They know us well. So it won’t be a surprise.”

But Kings guard Davion Mitchell might disagree, emphasizing how much better Sacramento‘s defense has gotten since last season.

“I think covering for one another. We’re kind of on a streak defensively,” Mitchell said Sunday after the Kings’ 121-82 blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers. “Helping each other out. If I get a backdoor cut and somebody beats me, you have my teammate helping. At the beginning of the year, that would be a layup or something easy like that.

“So covering for one another, talking and being physical. We haven’t played them since the beginning of the season, so it’s going to be a lot different than what they’ve seen.”

The Warriors and Kings split the season series at two wins apiece this year, with their last matchup taking place back in January. A lot changed for both teams since then.

That includes Sacramento’s noticeable defensive improvements.

“I mean, it’s exciting – we get to get a little payback from last year,” Mitchell said. “We know they’re going to come in here with energy because we’re playing a home game. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be physical, but I think we’re ready for it.

“The whole year I think we prepared ourselves for it, playing physical on both ends of the floor and I think we’ll be ready.”

The previous matchups between the two teams have yet to disappoint, too.

After the Kings took the Warriors to Game 7 of their first-round playoff series last season in what was two weeks of drama, chaos and excitement both on and off the court, a new rivalry was born between the NorCal neighbors.

And that carried over into the 2023-24 regular season, as three of the four games were decided by one point.

“It’s always a playoff-type game,” Green said. “You feel that. You go into their arena, their fans want to light the beam and see us lose and beat the crap out of us. And when they come here, we want to beat the crap out of them. A lot of familiarity amongst the two organizations. It kind of has brewed into that.

“For us, it’s another game that we have to go win. We got to get it done.”

The Warriors ended the Kings’ magical season one year ago thanks to a 50-point flurry from superstar Steph Curry. While Golden State will enter the matchup as the lower seed, the team’s success over the past decade-plus speaks for itself.

Kings second-year forward Keegan Murray is aware of who they’re dealing with, but he has confidence in his team’s ability.

“Honestly, we feel like underdogs,” Murray told NBC Sports California’s Morgan Ragan and Chelsea Gray on “Kings Postgame Live.” “Just going into it, I think we were close to our win total last year. So we’re trying to keep it as consistent as possible with the guys that we’ve lost. Obviously, it’s tough to lose those guys, but to be able to have a chance to be in the playoffs is big for us.”

Kings rising guard Keon Ellis is ready for the challenge.

“I think we all know what we got to do,” he said. “The Warriors, that’s a team we’ve played a lot. We’ve had our little rivalry. We know what they bring to the table and they know what we bring to the table. It’ll definitely be a good game, but we just got to focus in on the game plan.

“This next one could be our last, so [we] got to bring it.”

Both Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Kings coach Mike Brown broke down the matchup.

“The Fox and Sabonis pick-and-roll game is lethal,” Kerr said. “They’ve got great shooting around those guys. Sabonis is kind of the fulcrum of a lot of their offense. We know them well and they know us well. They’re a great coached team. Mike and his staff do a fantastic job. They’ve been really good for the last two years for a reason.

“They’re talented and they’ve got a good formula. They’re a tough team.”

After an exhausting end to the regular season following some late-season injuries, Brown is just excited about the opportunity for his guys.

“We welcome anybody that’s in front of us,” Brown said. “We are just excited about an opportunity to play. And again, situations like this, we as a group right now, haven’t been through. And so to go play one game right now, that’s how I look at it and swing for the fences. Try to get a win.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to go do it while trying to move on and growing in the same breath.”

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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