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Preview: Warriors @ Sacramento, the Battle for NorCal

The Warriors travel to Sacramento Tuesday night to face their NorCal neighbors. Can Golden State finish off the season sweep?

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (37-8) @ Sacramento Kings (19-29)

Sleep Train Arena - Sacramento, CA

7:00 p.m. PST

Radio: KNBR 680 AM | TV: CSN Bay Area

Buddy Blog: Sactown Royalty

The Golden State Warriors head up north to Sacramento tonight for another match against the up-and-down Sacramento Kings. These two teams have found ways to bring the best games out of each other in years past, as the local rivalry always adds more energy on the court than usual. Sacramento brings out a great local Warriors crowd to their home arena, and with a good collection of coaches and players that have headed from Oakland to Sac in years past (Malone & Smart), there is always added emotion.

Sacramento has fought through a roller coaster season to this point, dealing with high hopes and optimism at season's start (won five of their first six games), followed by injuries and rash decisions by the front office (quick trigger on Malone). They now find themselves back looking at the lottery, outside looking in at the West elite at 17-29. They are giving up huge amounts of points (104.3 pg, 27th in the league) and not scoring enough to cover for it. New ownership found a way to spoil a fantastic start to the season and somehow bring back the bad body language and spoil a chemistry that had the Kings playing elite ball in the season's first month.

The rough season has not prevented the continued rise of Boogie Cousins - the star of the show in Sac. DeMarcus has no doubt earned his All-Star spot (a replacement for Kobe, but Tim Duncan over him when making the original picks? A sham). He scores 23.6 per game, getting to the line a Harden-like 8.8 times per contest. He also grabs a solid 12.6 rebounds per game, and throw in a little over three assists per game to balance out his numbers. His worse number though? He averages about 8.5 dirty looks at referees or teammates per game (an estimate), continually winning the award for worse body language in the league. Boogie has been frustrating and dominating defenses with his inside out game, a throwback to a truly dominating post player who then spreads the floor with his jumper. If only he can get out of the way of his continually petulant attitude to be the dominant force that he is growing up to be.

He is complemented with a particularly balanced roster, a sum of parts that on paper should be better. Darren Collison continues to play solid ball to go with the enigma Rudy Gay (quietly averaging over 20 points a night) and the young star Ben McLemore. Add in the spare parts of the young gunner Nick Stauskas and tweeters Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams, and you have a team that might run off 120 points in a night, but then give up 130 the next.

The Warriors always cause the Kings matchup problems, with Boogie and Andrew Bogut the feature matchup that always seems to shape the game. Bogut has a knack for stepping up as his matchup gets increasingly harder, bringing his defensive intensity to usually great one-on-one matchups. The Kings have a hard time covering the great shooting of the Splash Brothers, but can match the fast paced offense with their own fast break game, usually making these high scoring affairs. Let's look at the season matchups so far:

Match Up

Result

Warriors @ Kings - Opening Night

The Kings kept it close on their home floor in the first half, actually going into the locker room with a two point lead. The Warriors defense came out strong in the second, holding the Kings to 28 second half points on the way to the easy win

Warriors vs Kings - Holiday Showdown

This one was over early, with the Warriors coming out strong and putting away the Kings in quick fashion. None of the Warriors starters played more than 30 min, and Justin Holiday had 18 off the bench to clean this one up

Warriors vs Kings - Klay's Coming Out Party

It's easy to forget that the Kings actually kept this game close through the beginning of the third, actually taking a lead on the Warriors. Then Mr. Thompson came into the spotlight and put up his record breaking quarter on his way to 52 on the night.

Tonight's matchup represents a "should win" for the Warriors, who have looked tired and stretched out in the last two weeks. Will they bring the can't-lose fight shown against the Suns or will they look disinterested as they did back in Utah? Will it take another record setting night from the All-Star back court to put away this pesky Kings team? We will see Tuesday night.

Predictions

  • Klay generates slightly more attention defensively than in games past. Though he doesn't bring down the house again shooting-wise, it allows the rest of the team wide open shots all night.
  • Boogie always breaks out against us, and tonight will be no different. He will live at the line tonight with the hometown crowd and calls. Thank goodness Festus Ezeli will be active for the game to bring in another big body #fullsquad.
  • The Kings were embarrassed last time in Oracle, and will look to play with a chip on their shoulder tonight. Can they avoid the season sweep and salvage some pride?
  • Another tough game, and with the Warriors not dominating like they have been this one stays close again up till the end. The Warriors will still eek it out though in a shootout, 110-104

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