You do not usually see the No. 6 seed as an amazing 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 collection, however, as we all know, the Warriors are not any unusual 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 type 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 hearth whereas ending a 16-year playoff drought, previously the biggest energetic streak in American skilled sports activities. It needs to be an enchanting collection, with a bit further juice added by the truth that Sacramento is coached by Mike Brown, a former Warriors assistant and one in every of Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s greatest mates.
Below is the collection schedule, together with some main storylines and a collection choose.
(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 top-of-the-line tales of the NBA common season, however there are quite a lot of doubts about how they’re going to translate to the postseason — notably confronted with the daunting defending champions as a first-round opponent. The first Sacramento query mark is the suspect protection, which completed twenty sixth total within the common season and second-to-last in half-court effectivity, per Synergy Sports. That final mark is particularly regarding, provided that the Warriors run a quick-hitting, fast-passing half-court assault in contrast to any within the league.
On the opposite aspect, the Kings boasted the very best offensive ranking within the historical past of the NBA, however the relative playoff inexperience from their important forged of characters raises questions on how they’re going to fare in opposition to a Warriors protection that has been via completely all the things 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 below his belt.
Sacramento additionally thrived within the clutch this season, largely because of Fox’s brilliance, nevertheless it’s honest to wonder if they’re going to be capable of preserve such proficiency in opposition to 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 collection goes on if issues go effectively. It’s onerous to overestimate the significance of Wiggins to the Warriors on each ends, however notably defensively, the place he takes on the opposite staff’s greatest perimeter participant (on this case, most certainly De’Aaron Fox). Golden State was a lot better defensively with Wiggins on the ground this season, and he completes the beginning unit (Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green, Looney) that was the perfect in your entire NBA when out there.
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 staff for private causes, Wiggins was capturing a career-high 40 % from 3-point vary, bolstering the league’s most prolific barrage from deep.
3. Road Woe-rriors
Already a tough staff to play in Sacramento, the Kings’ home-crowd power will probably 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 staff, however particularly the Warriors, who inexplicably sputtered to the league’s fourth-worst highway report this season at 11-30. Golden State will level to its well-known streak of profitable not less than one highway sport in all 27 playoff collection with Curry, Thompson and Green on the ground, nevertheless it’s unimaginable to disregard simply how poor the Warriors have been on the highway this season, notably on protection, the place they allowed 118.3 factors per 100 possessions, in comparison with 108.4 at dwelling.
If it was a query of focus or fatigue, one would anticipate that the playoff setting will get rid of these from the equation, maybe resulting in a extra centered Warriors unit away from dwelling. But the Kings solely need to win their dwelling video games to win the collection and, given how spectacular they have been offensively this season, it could be quite a bit to ask for the Warriors to immediately grow to be a very totally different highway staff than what we have seen all yr.
Call me cowardly, however I are inclined to agree with the frequent line of thought. I rode the Warriors’ expertise and picked them in each collection 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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