Game 21 Preview: Kings at Warriors
Home, sweet home…kind of. With 11 out of 16 games on the road, the month of January hasn’t been very kindto the Sacramento Kings. So it must be nice (instead of hopping on a plane) to make the short-bus ride to Oakland, where the Kings play the Golden State Warriors tonight.
Kings Probable Starters (6-14)
|Tyreke Evans||Jimmer Fredette||John Salmons||Jason Thompson||DeMarcus Cousins|
In his return to action Saturday against the Utah Jazz, Chuck Hayes dislocated his shoulder…again. However, according to head coach Keith Smart, Hayes will be ready to go for tonight’s match-up in the bay. The Kings big man is still working himself back into playing condition, so Thompson is expected to start again at power forward alongside DeMarcus Cousins.
Warriors Probable Starters (6-12)
|Stephen Curry||Monta Ellis||Dorell Wright||David Lee||Andris Biedrins|
The Warriors are trying to establish a defensive identity under new head coach Mark Jackson. So far, they’ve had trouble. Seven times this season, they’ve lost games where they’ve entered the final period within five points, tied or leading. Their most recent breakdown came last Friday, when they led by eight going into the fourth quarter, only to fall 120-109 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
1. Match-up to watch?
Rasheed Malek: Andris Biedrins vs Andris Biedrins. Can he get out of his own way and at least look like he wants to play?
BASG: I’m going to tap into my inner Dickie V. and pick the battle of the former collegiate superheroes: Stephen Curry vs. Jimmer Fredette. These two sharpshooters could turn this game into their own version of H-O-R-S-E — with both guys chucking half-courters by the fourth quarter.
Jonathan Santiago: Nate Robinson vs. Isaiah Thomas. Always enjoy watching how Thomas plays against his “big brothers” from the Seattle area. Averaging, 13.3 points over the last three games, Thomas has the edge entering the match-up. Robinson, meanwhile, has averaged just six points over the Warriors last three contests.
2. Stat that decides the game…
Rasheed Malek: Turnovers by the Warriors. If they can limit their turnovers, they’ll win convincingly.
BASG: If the Kings out-rebound the Warriors, it’s probably because DeMarcus Cousins dominated Golden State’s porous (poor us?) front line. If the Warriors win the battle of the boards, it means they learned something after getting absolutely destroyed in that category in Friday’s loss to the Thunder, a game where Serge Ibaka grabbed eight offensive rebounds.
Jonathan Santiago: Bench scoring. Only Isaiah Thomas scored off the Kings bench Saturday, chipping in 13 points in the three-point loss to Utah. In the past 12 games, the Warriors bench is outscoring their opposition, 33.7 to 25.2.
3. Agree or Disagree: Keith Smart is a better coaching fit for the Kings than he was for the Warriors.
Rasheed Malek: I’m neutral. I don’t think Keith Smart is built to be a head coach in the NBA. Everything about him screams lead assistant.
BASG: Agree, simply because of what Smart represented in Golden State. Replacing Don Nelson last season after serving under him for four years made it seem like Nellie never really left. Smart gets a fresh start in Sacramento. The Kings won’t defend with Smart at the helm, but they’ll run some sweet inbounds plays.
Jonathan Santiago: I think Sacramento is a better situation for Smart because the Kings are more talented than the Warriors But, it remains to be seen whether he gets a fair shot to coach this team beyond this season.