SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Fox plans to play as Kings enter massive Game 5 at Golden 1 Center

Apr 26, 2023, 7:51 AM | Updated: 7:53 am

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Gary Payton ...

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

In what has been a thrilling series between two Northern California heavyweights, one team will move within a game of advancing to the second round of the NBA Playoffs when the Sacramento Kings face the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center on Wednesday night.

This 2-2 series has seen the home team win in each of the four games thus far, and the Kings are looking to get back in the win column after dropping two-straight games on the road in San Francisco.

Golden State lost the first two games of this series in Sacramento, further confirming the road struggles that saw the team finish with a record of 11-30 (fourth-worst in the NBA) while playing away from their home floor.

The Kings will hope that another energized crowd at Golden 1 Center can serve as a home-court advantage in the most significant game in the building’s seven-year history.

A win puts either team one win away from facing the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies series.

It’s crunch time for the Kings and Warriors. Who will come out on top in Game 5?

(Sactown Sports 1140)

Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors Game Info

Series: Tied at 2-2

When: 7:00 PM PST

Where: Golden 1 Center – Sacramento, CA

TV: TNT, NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Pregame coverage starts at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night

Line: Warriors -1.5, O/U: 234.5

Will De’Aaron Fox Play?

Once it was revealed that De’Aaron Fox had suffered an avulsion fracture to the tip of his left index finger, it became clear that the Kings would have to face the Warriors without its franchise centerpiece on Wednesday night.

Or so we thought.

Fox participated in Tuesday’s practice while wearing a brace on his left index finger as he went through ball-handling, shooting, and dribbling reps to get acclimated with his protective wear. Following his practice session, Fox had a simple message for the media:

“I’m playing.”

‘No if ands or buts’: De’Aaron Fox plans to play in Game 5

“As we got going, as the pain started going away, I felt like I could take my normal shot,” Fox said of how he felt wearing the brace. “I think I’ll be good. The ball handling was actually fine. As soon as I got out here, dribbling and passing was fine. The most important thing was can I shoot as painful as possible.”

Fox, who has been an absolute force for the Kings in his first playoff experience, said that he expects his injured finger to take contact from defenders–but added that he isn’t here to make excuses at this point in the season.

“I expect it to get hit. At this point in the season, something hurts anyways,” Fox said when asked if there were concerns his finger could take contact during a game. “You play through the pain. There are no excuses coming from this way.”

The star guard is averaging 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range during the first four games of this hard-fought playoff series against the defending champions.

It will be interesting to see how Fox plays in real game speed, but you can bank on the All-Star finding ways to be effective for his team.

Can Huerter, Murray & Barnes Step Up?

Although De’Aaron Fox will attempt to give it a go in Game 5, Sacramento will need its supporting cast to step up and help the injured guard on Wednesday night.

Keegan Murray had his ‘welcome to the playoffs’ game on Sunday as the rookie broke out of his slump by scoring 23 points on five-of-seven shooting from three-point range.

The Kings had struggled to knock down perimeter looks through the first three games of this series as they held a 27 percent rate from three-point land entering Game 4. After shooting 40 percent from deep during a 126-125 loss, one can only hope that the success from beyond the arc can carry over into Game 5.

Murray finally got his shots to fall on Sunday, but other perimeter threats Kevin Huerter (0/1) and Harrison Barnes (1/6) continued to struggle.

Huerter, who knocked down 205 triples while shooting 40 percent from three this season, is shooting just three-of-21 (14%) from three-point range during the NBA Playoffs. Barnes hasn’t been much better at five-of-20 (25%) from deep.

Golden State has allowed teams to shoot 40 percent from three while on the road, meaning that Wednesday’s game is another opportunity for Sacramento’s shooters to find a rhythm.

If it feels like the Kings have simply missed open looks, it’s because they have, according to ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry.

The Kings are getting great looks on the edges, but they aren’t making them. As a team, they’ve made just 27.6% of their catch-and-shoot 3s this postseason. That ranks 16th among the 16 playoff teams, after the Kings ranked 10th among all 30 teams in the same category during the regular season, making 37.6% of their catch-and-shoot 3s.

ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry – April 25, 2023

It could spell trouble if Sacramento can’t find the bottom of the net in Game 5. The Warriors are 8-24 this season when allowing its opponent to shoot 40 percent or better from three-point range. If the Kings can convert those open looks, they have a strong chance of winning this game.

Now is the time to break out of those slumps.

Unlock Sabonis

If Fox is limited in Game 5, all eyes will turn to Domantas Sabonis. In fact, all eyes might have already turned to the All-Star center.

Sabonis has struggled to find consistency on the offensive end during this series, as Golden State has done a solid job of taking the slick-passing big man out of the equation.

After posting more turnovers (13) than assists (10) over the first three games, Sabonis finally freed up enough to finish Game 4 with eight assists. The 26-year-old has been bothered by Warriors big man Kevon Looney’s physicality, averaging 16 points on 48 percent shooting during this first-round series.

YouTube video

Sabonis has struggled to knock down looks around the rim in this series, shooting 11 percent under his season average from 3-10 feet away from the basket.

With or without Fox, the Kings need more from their big man. The rebounding has been there (12.0 rebounds per game), but it’s the intangibles that Sacramento needs most from the versatile center.

Note

According to Basketball Reference, teams that go up 3-2 in an NBA Playoff series have gone on to win the series 188 times out of 222 opportunities (84.6%).

Injury Report

Sacramento

  • De’Aaron Fox – QUESTIONABLE (left index finger avulsion fracture)
  • Matthew Dellavedova – OUT (right index finger surgery)

Golden State

  • Andre Iguodala – OUT (left wrist surgery)
  • Ryan Rollins – OUT (right foot surgery)

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

NBA Western Conference Playoffs – First Round

  • Wednesday, April 26th – Game 5: Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, April 28th – Game 6: Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – TBD
  • Sunday, April 30th – Game 7**: Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – TBD

**If necessary

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