Game 23 Preview: Kings vs. Warriors

Leading by one going into the fourth quarter, the Sacramento Kings let one slip away Tuesday night in Oakland.  The Golden State Warriors’ bench closed out the Kings in a 93-90 win earlier this week.  Now playing host, Sacramento looks for payback tonight at Power Balance Pavilion.

Gametime: 7:00 pm PST
Broadcast Information: Click here.
For Warriors perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Warriors World.

Kings Probable Starters (7-15)

Tyreke Evans Marcus Thornton John Salmons Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

With everyone back healthy, Keith Smart has the full roster at his disposal for just the third time as head coach.  Jimmer Fredette, Donte Greene, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt did not play in Thursday’s win over the Trailblazers.  However, Smart emphasized at practice yesterday that everyone must be prepared and remain ready to play at all times.

Warriors Probable Starters (8-12)

Stephen Curry Monta Ellis
Dorell Wright David Lee Andris Biedrins

The Warriors visit Sacramento riding a two-game win-streak.  The Kings slowed Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis Tuesday night, but the Warriors backcourt bounced back in a big way Thursday against the Utah Jazz.  Curry scored 29 points and dished out 12 assists, while Ellis poured 33 in his fifth 30-plus point game of the season.

3-on-3 Roundtable

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.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss of Warriors World and Danny Leroux, of RealGM,  join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Warriors match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Ethan Sherwood Strauss: Isaiah Thomas vs. Nate Robinson is the novelty matchup that instantly comes to mind, but I’m going for another size-influenced pick: Tyreke vs. Monta is fascinating. When Ellis guards Evans, he looks like a small lizard on a large rock. Can Reke’ be slowed by someone so short and spindly?

Danny Leroux:  Monta Ellis vs. Tyreke Evans. Either guy can take his team over the top or shoot them into oblivion. When dealing with two young and inconsistent teams, the tone-setters take on dramatically more importance. How Tyreke and Monta play on both ends of the floor should be the strongest indicator of how their units perform.

Jonathan Santiago:  John Salmons vs. Monta Ellis.  Salmons has put together two solid games defensively in a row, starting with his effort on Ellis Tuesday.  The Kings small forward held the Warriors two-guard to 12 points on five-of-17 shooting.  Can Salmons slow down Ellis again tonight?

2. Stat that decides the game…

Ethan Sherwood Strauss: I will go with bench +/-. Last time these teams faced off, the GSW bench mob saved the day for a shaky starting unit. I’m predicting that victory hinges on the efforts of Ekpe Udoh, Brandon Rush, and Nate Robinson.

Danny Leroux:  Points off turnovers. One could easily make the argument that it will be TO’s themselves, but the real pivot point of this game will be how successful each squad can be at turning those mistakes into points. Golden State had a ten point advantage here last time.

Jonathan Santiago:  Warriors bench scoring.  With a 20-point performance from Rush and 11 points from Robinson, the W’s bench killed the Kings in their last meeting.  Sacramento can’t let them, especially Rush, have a game like that again.

3. What’s more likely:  An encore performance from the Warriors bench or big games from the starters like Thursday against Utah? 

Ethan Sherwood Strauss: It seems completely nuts to lavish praise on a Udoh-McGuire-Rush-Thompson-Robinson lineup. Such a combination sounds awful, truthfully. But hey, they keep playing excellent defense in the starter’s stead. It is more likely that the second unit keeps on ballin’, albeit gawkily.

Danny Leroux:  The starters performing, for two reasons. First, it would be incredibly hard for them to play as poorly as they did Tuesday- progression to at least their normal performance level seems likely. On top of that, the bench mob played out of their minds on Tuesday and a repeat seems unlikely simply because of how remarkable they played that night.

Jonathan Santiago:  It’s tough to see the Warriors bench have another performance like they did Tuesday.  But as Ethan said, they’ve been playing great defense.  If this game is close, maybe Mark Jackson lets them finish like they did Tuesday.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.