The Kings have little reason to win at the moment but have still been playing solid basketball of late. They have won four of their last 11 games, and despite losing their past three, have been competitive in all of them
With a 24-52 record, they now sit in 12th place in the east. They have the sixth worst record in the league.
The Warriors, in contrast, are sitting right near the top of the Western Conference standings, with their 54-21 record leaving them comfortably in second place. They have been severely hampered by injuries of late, though, and as a result, have lost their past three games, and are 3-7 in their last ten.
Three keys to the game
The Warriors’ injury list – All four of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant have missed much of the past week, and the results have shown as much. Green and Durant returned against the Bucks on Thursday, though neither played many minutes, particularly Durant after being ejected in the fourth quarter. Against the Kings, it may not be a problem, but if Green and Durant don’t play many minutes, the Warriors may struggle again.
Hield’s form – Buddy Hield has had potentially the best period of his career over the past couple of weeks. In his last eight games, he has averaged 20 points and has shot 46.4% from long range. This has been a huge boost for a Kings team which has really struggled to generate offense this season.
Taking care of the ball – The Warriors game style of high ball movement inevitably means they turn the ball over a lot. They give it up on 15.4% of possessions, which is the third most in the NBA, and in their last two games have averaged 17 turnovers a night. The Kings aren’t exactly the most likely team in the league to capitalize on this, but Golden State will still be eager to take a little better care of the basketball in this game.
Matchup to watch
Quinn Cook vs De’Aaron Fox – Cook has been given his first chance in the NBA by the Warriors this season, and with the severity of their injury list, he has received much more playing time than he otherwise would have. He has shown plenty of good signs, hitting five 3-pointers in three of his past seven games. Last game, he went 12-for-15 from the field and 5-for-5 from deep on his way to 30 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
His opponent in De’Aaron Fox is more highly rated, having been drafted at pick five in the 2017 draft, but he isn’t in the same vein of form. Fox has scored just 28 points in his past four games at an average of 7.0 per game and has shot just 30.7% from the field.
Sacramento Kings predicted starting lineup
PG – De’Aaron Fox | SG – Bogdan Bogdanovic | SF – Skal Labissiere | PF – Justin Jackson | C – Willie Cauley-Stein
Golden State Warriors predicted starting lineup
PG – Quinn Cook | SG – Patrick McCaw | SF – Kevin Durant | PF – Draymond Green | C – JaVale McGee
The Warriors lost to the Kings just two weeks ago, but Cook put in a great performance in the game. He shot 10-for-13 from the field and 5-for-7 from deep for 25 points to go with four rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Green was excellent in that game at both ends of the floor. He scored 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out seven assists, and also contributed four steals and two blocks.
The Kings have been given an 8.5 point head start, and they’ll cover this. The Warriors have Green and Durant back but are still missing Curry and Thompson and have been beaten twice already by Sacramento this season. Expect the Kings to keep this game close and cover the line.
With Durant and Green back the Warriors should be able to win this one, but it will be closer than many people think. The Kings are showing some better signs as the season winds to a close, with Hield being a major reason for this. He’ll come off the bench to score 20+ points, but it won’t quite be enough for the young Kings. The Warriors, led by Durant with 30 points, will run out 103-98 winners.
The game will be broadcast locally on NBCSCA and NBC Sports Bay Area. Tip-off is at 10pm ET.
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