3 X Factors in the Sacramento Kings’ first Play-In Tournament game 

The biggest game of the Kings’ season is almost here.
Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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Finishing the season in ninth place in an incredibly competitive Western Conference, the Kings will have to battle their way through the Play-In Tournament to keep their playoff hopes alive. This means beating the Golden State Warriors and then whoever loses the 7-8 matchup between the Pelicans and the Lakers. 

Doing that won’t be easy, especially considering that the Kings are missing two key players, as Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter are still sidelined with injuries. In sports, nothing is impossible, however, and at the very least we will get to watch a very entertaining first play-in game. The Kings and Warriors always bring their A Games when playing each other, and the atmosphere at Golden 1 Center will be great. 

So, in preparation for the game, let’s look at three possible X factors that could swing the game. 

3. Keon Ellis

As most of the Kings’ regular season games against the Warriors came early in the season, Keon Ellis has barely played against them. Since then, he has entered the starting lineup, adding a new dimension to that group. 

His presence could be very helpful for the Kings in this game because the Warriors are not very familiar with his game and because of his defense. The Kings have struggled immensely with Stephen Curry. For most of the season, Keegan Murray was the best answer. Now, Mike Brown has another option. He has trusted Ellis to go up against star players before from Devin Booker to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 

Ellis may not have much NBA experience, but he bothers anyone he guards. He is handsy, tall, and quick. While we cannot expect a former two-way player in his first full NBA season to lock down Stephen Curry, he might have a solid chance to cause some trouble and allow Murray to guard some of the Warriors’ bigger players. 

On the other end of the floor, the Warriors won’t be scared of Ellis, however. He is a good three-point shooter, averaging over 40 percent shooting for the season, but he has not established himself as a threat yet. Teams have been daring him to shoot ever since he joined the starting lineup. The Warriors will do the same, zeroing in on De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis instead, and he will have to prove that he can be an offensive threat. 

If he knocks down some threes while playing good defense, it could give the Kings a chance to survive this game despite missing so much offensive firepower.