You do not usually see the No. 6 seed as an awesome favourite to beat No. 3, however welcome to the wild and wacky Western Conference playoffs! Sacramento Kings followers will spit malevolent venom, deservedly so, at these choosing the defending champions to win their first-round sequence, however, as we all know, the Warriors aren’t any bizarre six-seed.
Armed with the star energy of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, together with the tried and true playoff expertise of Kevon Looney, Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II, the Warriors will look to place an underwhelming common season behind them and get again to the sort of basketball that made them unbeatable in final yr’s postseason.
Meanwhile the Kings, led by All-Stars Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, not solely lit the beam all season, however in addition they lit the NBA on fireplace whereas ending a 16-year playoff drought, previously the most important lively streak in American skilled sports activities. It must be an enchanting sequence, with slightly further juice added by the truth that Sacramento is coached by Mike Brown, a former Warriors assistant and one among Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s greatest pals.
Below is the sequence schedule, together with some main storylines and a sequence decide.
(3) Sacramento Kings vs. (6) Golden State Warriors
All occasions Eastern
Game 1 (at SAC): Saturday, April 15 | 8:30 p.m. | TV: TNT Game 2 (at SAC): Monday, April 17 | 10 p.m. | TV: TNT Game 3 (at GSW): Thursday, April 20 | 10 p.m. | TV: TNT Game 4 (at GSW): Saturday, April 23 | 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC Game 5* (at SAC): Wednesday, April 26 | TBD | TV: TBDGame 6* (at GSW): Friday, April 28 | TBD | TV: TBDGame 7* (at SAC): Sunday, April 30 | TBD | TV: TBD
1. Are the Kings for actual?
The Kings have been the most effective tales of the NBA common season, however there are quite a lot of doubts about how they will translate to the postseason — significantly confronted with the daunting defending champions as a first-round opponent. The first Sacramento query mark is the suspect protection, which completed twenty sixth general within the common season and second-to-last in half-court effectivity, per Synergy Sports. That final mark is very regarding, provided that the Warriors run a quick-hitting, fast-passing half-court assault in contrast to any within the league.
On the opposite facet, the Kings boasted the best offensive ranking within the historical past of the NBA, however the relative playoff inexperience from their primary forged of characters raises questions on how they will fare towards a Warriors protection that has been by completely every part you possibly can think about in a postseason setting. Fox has by no means been to the playoffs, whereas Sabonis has simply 13 video games beneath his belt.
Sacramento additionally thrived within the clutch this season, largely due to Fox’s brilliance, however it’s truthful to wonder if they will be capable of preserve such proficiency towards an skilled Warriors roster when the lights (or beams) are the brightest.
2. The Andrew Wiggins wrinkle
Talk in regards to the X-factor of all X-factors. Wiggins will reportedly play 20-25 minutes off the bench in Game 1, together with his enjoying time presumably growing because the sequence goes on if issues go effectively. It’s onerous to overestimate the significance of Wiggins to the Warriors on each ends, however significantly defensively, the place he takes on the opposite group’s greatest perimeter participant (on this case, most probably De’Aaron Fox). Golden State was significantly better defensively with Wiggins on the ground this season, and he completes the beginning unit (Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green, Looney) that was one of the best in the whole NBA when obtainable.
If Wiggins can regain the offensive type he displayed final postseason, it could be the top for the Kings. During the 2022 championship run, the Warriors’ offensive ranking improved by 12 factors per 100 possessions with Wiggins on the ground — much more than with Curry. Before leaving the group for private causes, Wiggins was taking pictures a career-high 40 p.c from 3-point vary, bolstering the league’s most prolific barrage from deep.
3. Road Woe-rriors
Already a troublesome group to play in Sacramento, the Kings’ home-crowd vitality can be turned as much as 17 in its first style of postseason motion in over a decade and a half. This would spell hassle for any group, however particularly the Warriors, who inexplicably sputtered to the league’s fourth-worst highway file this season at 11-30. Golden State will level to its well-known streak of successful at the least one highway recreation in all 27 playoff sequence with Curry, Thompson and Green on the ground, however it’s unattainable to disregard simply how poor the Warriors have been on the highway this season, significantly on protection, the place they allowed 118.3 factors per 100 possessions, in comparison with 108.4 at house.
If it was a query of focus or fatigue, one would count on that the playoff setting will eradicate these from the equation, maybe resulting in a extra centered Warriors unit away from house. But the Kings solely should win their house video games to win the sequence and, given how spectacular they have been offensively this season, it could be rather a lot to ask for the Warriors to all of the sudden grow to be a very totally different highway group than what we have seen all yr.
Call me cowardly, however I are inclined to agree with the widespread line of thought. I rode the Warriors’ expertise and picked them in each sequence final season, so why stray now? Ultimately Wiggins’ return makes an excessive amount of of a distinction on each ends of the ground, and the Kings protection simply is not cohesive sufficient to maintain up with Golden State. Pick: Warriors in six.
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