This will be the 3rd of 4 games with the Warriors this season, and as of now they have a 2-0 lead in the series. They won in overtime back on Dec. 21st 117-109 here in Sacramento, and then again in overtime at Oracle Arena back on Jan. 21st 119-112. The two teams split their series last season 2-2 with each team winning both of their home games.
Most of you should remember the first game since it was StR Night 3. The Kings led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter, but made only two baskets over the final nine minutes of regulation. The Kings still led 102-99 with 3.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, when Reggie Williams missed the 2nd of two free throws. The missed free throw deflected out of bounds off Cousins with two seconds left. The Warriors then inbounded the ball to Vladimir Radmanovic who drilled a 3-pointer from well beyond the 3-point line to send the game into overtime.
The Warriors were without Curry and Biedrins while the Kings were without Thompson. But, the game came down to the Kings not being able to whether the pressure by Golden State in the 4th quarter. The Kings turned the ball over 19 times in the game and 9 times in the 4th quarter; First by Beno, then Garcia, followed by Jeter, then Cousins, then Evans, and Beno again, then Evans again, and Cousins again, followed by Tyreke’s 3rd.
The 2nd game was similar to the first in that Golden State came from behind late in the 4th to force overtime. The Warriors trailed by nine points with three minutes left in regulation, but Golden State made a pair of huge 3s down the stretch, including one by Ellis at the 23.7-second mark that cut Sacramento's lead to one point. With the Warriors trailing by two and 15.3 seconds remaining in regulation, GS’s coach Keith Smart allowed Ellis to run the clock down, despite being behind. Ellis waited until roughly 5 seconds remained, feinted to his right, and then crossed over to his left, losing Tyreke Evans and making a wide open 16-foot jumper with 0.9 seconds on the game clock.
Even with all of the Warriors late game heroics, the Kings still had a chance to put the game out of reach if they could of hit their FT’s down the stretch. DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and Pooh Jeter all split a pair of foul shots in the final 40 seconds. Of course the same could be said of the other FT’s that the Kings missed earlier in the game; the Kings missed a total of 12, they shot 25-37 for 67.6%.
Golden State is currently in 12th place in the West with a record of 30-36 and 14 games ahead of the Kings. Since the trade deadline they are 2-5 on the road and 3-2 at home including a 123-120 overtime victory over Orlando on Friday. No longer under the direction of Don Nelson, the Warriors have fallen to the 5th highest Pace at 97.2 which is only 0.1 quicker than the Kings. They’ve also dropped to the 12th highest offense, but they’re still only 28th in defense and dead last in Total Rebounding Rate. And, what we already found out the hard way in our last two meeting, the Warriors are the 2nd best 3-pt shooting team in the league at 38.8%.
The Warriors did make one deal at the trade deadline; Golden State acquires Troy Murphy and a 2012 second round pick from New Jersey in exchange for Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric, but Murphy never suited up with the Warriors after the trade. Murphy agreed to a buyout and after he cleared waivers he was signed by Boston.
Golden State’s starters are Dorell Wright, David Lee and Andris Biedrins in the front line and Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry in the backcourt. Off the bench we should see Ekpe Udoh, Lou Amundson, Al Thornton, and Vladimir Radmanovic in the frontcourt and AC Law and Reggie Williams in the backcourt.
Ellis is averaging 25ppg in an exhausting 41 mpg. And, he’s shooting 36.4% from 3pt range on over 300 attempts. Curry is 2nd in scoring 18.7 ppg in a little under 34 mpg. He’s shooting 42% from three on almost 260 attempts, plus they both average over 5 assists per game. Lee and Wright average around 16 pts per game and 3 assists. Lee leads the team in rebounds at 9.7 per game while Wright is another three point threat averaging 39.4% on just below 400 attempts in 65 games. The scoring drops off after Williams who averages 9.7 ppg on 44.4% from beyond to arc, to just over 5 ppg from Radmanovic and Biedrins although Andris is 2nd in rebounding at 7.4 rpg and is 2nd to Udoh’s 1.1 blks per game with 0.9.
The Kings have lost a lot of games this year late in the 4th quarter, but it’s safe to say that against the Warriors the Kings have choked the game away. In two games against Golden State the Kings have allowed 52 pts off of 41 turnovers, and the Kings have been outscored by 25 points on Fast Break baskets. They have failed to execute the offense or turned the ball over late in games. And, things don’t seem to be getting better as the Kings have committed 230 turnovers in the last 13 games without Tyreke. That’s a 17.9 turnover average with the majority of the turnover’s coming from our front court.
Even with Beno’s return, I doubt the turnover problem will improve. The Kings offense is still designed to go thru DeMarcus or one of the Bigs from the high post, and that’s a problem. Ellis is going to be a problem to defend for both Taylor and Thornton and they better pick him up way before he gets to the 3pt line. In fact anyone defending a wing or guard needs to pick them up quickly and stay with them until DeMarcus rebounds the ball. The Kings aren’t a better offensive team than they were the last time these teams met, but they are less predictable. Let’s hope that is enough to frustrate the Warriors when they try to claw back late in the 4th quarter. The Kings can win if they eliminate some of those turnovers and get back on defense to cut down on the Fast Break points. Go Sacramento