SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Kings seek redemption with season on line vs. Warriors

Apr 16, 2024, 8:47 AM

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 27: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings goes up to attempt a s...

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Here we go again.

366 days removed from Game 1 of an NBA Playoff series between the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, the two Northern California foes will clash on Tuesday night in a win-or-go-home Play-In game at Golden 1 Center.

Of course, that playoff series–the Kings’ first postseason appearance in 17 years–ended at the hands of Stephen Curry’s 50-point performance in Game 7, another elimination game that took place on Sacramento’s home floor.

Tuesday’s matchup against the Warriors provides the Kings with a chance at redemption, one that would undoubtedly lack the punch of sending Golden State packing in a seven-game playoff series, but the goal remains the same:

Get the upper hand on the ‘big brother’ Warriors and begin to change the ‘little brother’ narrative that has surrounded Sacramento over the past decade-plus.

While the Kings will be without two key pieces in starting guard Kevin Huerter (shoulder) and Sixth Man of the Year favorite Malik Monk (knee) on Tuesday, Sacramento has enough firepower to get past Golden State and keep its season alive.

A Jekyll & Hyde Kings squad that has experienced a roller-coaster 2023-24 will look to secure a signature win against the team that ended its season one year ago.

It should be a packed house at Golden 1 Center as Sacramento takes the floor–once again–against the Warriors for another season-defining moment.

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Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors Game Info

NBA Play-In Tournament | Single-elimination | 9th vs. 10th seed

When: 7:00 PM PST

Where: Golden 1 Center  – Sacramento, CA

TV: TNT

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 5:30 PM on Game Night

Line: Warriors -2.5, O/U 224.5

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Warriors coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

A Clashing of Improved Defenses

Offense will be a crucial part of Tuesday’s Play-In (more on that later), but Sacramento and Golden State will both show off their upgraded defenses when these teams meet for the first time since January.

Since the All-Star break in mid-February, the Kings (9th) and Warriors (7th) both hold top-ten rankings in defensive rating.

For Sacramento, a new identity has been formed as defensive-minded players like Keon Ellis and Davion Mitchell have emerged as major rotation pieces, especially during a final stretch that has seen offense-first options in Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk sidelined.

Golden State’s defense has climbed the league leaderboards thanks to an improved three-point defense, as the Warriors enter play having held opponents to 36 percent from downtown this season (11th in the NBA).

The Kings have struggled to contain the long-ball this season, with opponents shooting 38.7 percent from deep (29th in the NBA) against Sacramento’s perimeter defense. Paint defense trends more towards the Kings, with Sacramento in the league’s top-half of opponents points per game (48.7, 13th in NBA).

Live & Die By The 3

About those three-pointers.

During last year’s seven-game playoff series, both teams ranked among the NBA’s top-ten three-point shooting teams. This year, both teams are ranked among the league’s top-five shooting teams, with the Kings ranked fourth in made three-point field goals and third in attempts, while the Warriors rank second in made three-pointers and fourth in attempts.

Sacramento and Golden State both live and die by the three, a trend that could very well determine Tuesday’s game.

The Warriors have lit up the Kings’ defense this season, shooting 43 percent from deep over four games, including a 19 of 37 (51%) during a one-point Sacramento win at Chase Center on January 25th.

Golden State is nearly unbeatable when locked in from deep, as the Warriors hold a record of 28-4 (.875) when shooting 40 percent or better from beyond the arc–with two of those losses coming against Sacramento.

Containing Stephen Curry will be a clear goal for the Kings defense, but a strong Golden State perimeter defense will have to mind Sacramento’s three-point shooters as well.

The Kings have found great success in games that they shoot 35 percent or better from three, holding a record of 33-14 (.702) over 47 such games this season. In two wins against the Warriors this season, Sacramento shot a combined 40 percent from deep in comparison to the 30 percent they shot during two losing efforts.

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The Kings have relied on unlikely three-point contributors down the final stretch of the season, with Keon Ellis (41%), De’Aaron Fox (37%), and Davion Mitchell (36%) stepping up while usual perimeter threats Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray have experienced fluctuations in their efficiency.

Still, Murray and Barnes are more than capable of going on hot-streaks, something that we saw from the former Warrior in Barnes during an explosive 39-point performance in San Francisco on January 25th.

Golden State has no shortage of marksmen, with familiar faces in Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green (yes, Green is shooting 39 percent from three this season) leading the way.

Rookie guard Brandon Podziemski and future Hall of Fame floor general Chris Paul also loom as threats to get hot from deep, with wild card Jonathan Kuminga (season-high 31 points vs. the Kings on January 25th) also looming as an option, though his damage would likely come in the paint.

Sabonis vs. His Past

When looking back on the 2023 Kings vs. Warriors series, one storyline prevails among others: Domantas Sabonis.

Sabonis, an All-Star and All-NBA center in 2022-23, was taken out of his comfort zone against a Golden State frontline of Green and Kevon Looney, who did a strong job of keeping the Sacramento big out of the paint and off of the glass.

Looney, who is currently coming off of the bench behind rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis, could be called on by Warriors head coach Steve Kerr if Sabonis gets comfortable early against the inexperienced Davis.

Funnily enough, Looney’s last start this season came against the Kings on January 25th. Could Kerr turn back the clock to 2023 and insert the center into the starting five in a move to make Sabonis uncomfortable early? We’ll see, but this single-elimination matchup gives Sabonis a shot at redemption.

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During the seven-game playoff series last April, Sabonis was held to 16.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists on 49 percent shooting from the field–12 percent lower than his season average.

Looney dominated the glass, pulling down 20+ rebounds in three of the seven games while averaging 15.1 rebounds per game.

With Looney making Sabonis uncomfortable around the basket, Sacramento was forced to rely on three-point shooting without the benefit of Sabonis’ dribble-hand-off action, and the Kings struggled (30 percent from three during the series).

Sabonis has looked better during four matchups against the Warriors this season, although Golden State has held the NBA’s rebounding champion beneath his season average of 13.7 boards:

17.3 PTS | 11.3 REB | 9.5 AST | 51% FG | 2-2 record

Expect Sabonis to attack Jackson-Davis early, and if he’s unable to find success around the basket, we could see some mid-range attempts from the Kings center–a range that the Warriors defense will surely allow Sabonis to hoist from.

Sabonis is shooting 46 percent from 10-to-16 feet from the basket this season, although the three-time All-Star has showcased an increase in aggression from the mid-range over his past two games.

This Play-In allows Sabonis to silence the chatter that has followed him since last April. Can he rise to the challenge?

Battle of the Guards

Kings vs. Warriors could very well come down to which one of De’Aaron Fox and Stephen Curry plays better on Tuesday night.

Both of these guards act as the engines that make their teams go, with Fox (8th) and Curry (9th) both entering play as top-ten scorers in the NBA.

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Fox has enjoyed playing against Golden State this season, averaging 32.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent from three-point range (three games).

Curry’s numbers are eerily similar to Fox’s over four matchups against Sacramento this season, as the two-time MVP has posted 31.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 52/45/100 shooting splits.

These two guards might be close off of the court as Fox recently became Curry’s first athlete to join his Under Armour-based brand, but all bets are off when the Kings and Warriors take the floor at Golden 1 Center.

If Fox can even get close to replicating his historic Game 1 showing from one year ago (38 points, the second-most by any NBA player in a playoff debut), Sacramento will have a much better chance of turning the tables and sending Golden State home for the summer.

Are the Kings due?

  • Since moving to California in 1985, the Kings are 0-6 in winner-take-all games (0-6).
  • In Sacramento’s franchise history, they hold a 6-12 (.333) record in winner-take all games, with the last win taking place on April 14, 1981 when the franchise was located in Kansas City (Beat Phoenix in Game 7 of the first round).

Injury Report

Sacramento

  • Malik Monk – OUT (Right knee sprain)
  • Kevin Huerter – OUT (left shoulder dislocation)

Golden State

  • Gary Payton II – OUT (calf)

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tuesday, April 16th – NBA Play-In (9th seed vs. 10th seed): Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM

NBA Postseason Schedule

  • Tuesday, April 16th-Friday, April 19th – NBA Play-In Tournament
  • Saturday, April 20th – NBA Playoffs begin

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