Game Preview: Kings (12-15) at Warriors (22-3)


Is it possible for a win to feel both encouraging and discouraging? That’s how Saturdays 108 – 101 win over the Los Angeles Lakers felt.

I don’t know. Maybe I need to readjust my own expectations for this team. Maybe I fell for how well they were playing in December against that often-noted tough schedule. Maybe this team just isn’t that good.

I hate saying that after a win. Tyrone Corbin’s first win as the Kings head coach, by the way (congrats, Ty). There was a point in the third quarter where the Lakers were up 79-66, and I swear you could almost feel the disappointment Sacramento had in this team.

Then, Darren Collison made a driving bank shot after getting popped in the mouth by Ronnie Price. Collison was down for a while, but he would eventually get up and hit his free throw. The entire game changed. The Kings outscored the Lakers 42-22 after the Ronnie Price foul, and just like that; Sacramento’s faith in this team was spared for one more night.

I don’t know if anyone actually believes that this team can make the playoffs, but even that outside shot is on life support. The Kings need to start winning games they are supposed to win. Last night’s win over the Lakers at home was not pretty, but the Kings pulled it out. That has to count for something.

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  • That win is even more important when you consider the fact that the Kings have to face the Warriors tonight on the second night of a back-to-back in Golden State. Ouch.

    The Warriors have a league-best 22-3 record. They are destroying teams on a nightly basis, and they already have one 97-77 win over the Kings that came on opening night.

    If I’m going to give the Kings any sliver of hope tonight, it is because the Warriors are going to be playing without Andrew Bogut. In the season opener, Bogut held DeMarcus Cousins to 4-14 shooting. Cousins still scored 20 points, but most of that damage was done at the free throw line. Bogut is a great defender, and he’s one of the few centers in the NBA Cousins doesn’t have a size and strength advantage over. The Warriors are going to miss him tonight.

    Festus Ezeli will get the start in Bogut’s place. Ezeli is a good defender, but he’s not Andrew Bogut. If the Kings play their matchups correctly, they could have a nice advantage inside.

    Between Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors have outstanding perimeter shooting. This is a scary tandem for any team to defend, but the Kings are notoriously bad at defending the three-point line. The Bucks torched them from three on Thursday night, and the Lakers shot the ball well from three last night in the first half.

    It sounds simple because it is; the Kings need to do a better job closing out on shooters. Collison has the speed and quickness to at least make shots difficult for Curry, but I really worry about Ben McLemore’s ability to defend Thompson off the ball. We’ve seen McLemore lose shooters many times in the past. He’s going to need to lock in on Thompson’s movement if the Kings are going to keep the Warriors guards under control.

    And then there is Draymond Green. The Warriors have so many weapons.

    Jason Thompson is a very good defender. His post defense this season has been stellar, but he struggles against stretch fours. He doesn’t want to defend the perimeter. Green is going to keep him out of the paint, and that is going to be a problem. We’ve seen the Kings use Derrick Williams against players like Green, but that doesn’t exactly make me confident in the Kings ability to defend Green tonight.

    This is going to be a tough game to win any way you slice it. Most of the Kings starters played heavy minutes last night. Cousins is still recovering from viral meningitis, and you can tell he isn’t in game shape yet. A good effort from the Kings tonight would be enough for me.

    Check back in to A Royal Pain after tonight’s game for our postgame coverage.