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Preview: Warriors head to Sacramento to try to find winning ways again

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Redemption Game? Sacramento stands in the way of “righting the ship” in the first of three season matchups against the Kings

NBA: Preseason-Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (31-6, still the best in the NBA) vs Sacramento Kings (15-21)

How to watch?

Date: Sunday, January 9, 2017

Location: Golden 1 Center — Sacramento, CA

Time: 6:00pm PST

TV: CSN Bay Area Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

The Matchup

The Warriors... had a rough night on Friday and you might have heard about it. While the sky is not officially falling (I checked, still up there), many fans and media are concerned that Golden State is falling apart within. Calls for coach Steve Kerr’s firing came out across Twitter after the brutal collapse against Memphis. Players were fighting on the court... guys were second-guessing team philosophy to the media after the game. It’s as if the season had been labeled a failure.

But then, the sun came out on Saturday and the Warriors still have the best record in the league.

They were lucky to have a day off in the Bay before now heading to Sacramento for their first matchup of the season against the Kings. Golden State swept the season series last year against DeMarcus Cousins and his boys, but this is not the same Kings squad.

Can the Warriors get back on track? Draymond Green sure seems to think so.

After rightfully saying that it was “good” for Golden State to face adversity during the season rather than in the playoffs, this was bulletin board material for a veteran team to get their heads back to winning ways. They have responded each time they faced adversity this season - they won four straight after losing on opening night to the San Antonio Spurs, they won 12 straight after an embarrassing loss to the L.A. Lakers (where fans similarly claimed they were “done”) and won four in a row after the loss on Christmas day. This team responds, and urgency plus talent plus veteran poise is what it will take to get back to “dominant” winning ways. Why dominant? Because I’m not sure this team will take anything less.

The Kings... are in the middle of a big of an up-and-down season. They find themselves at 15-21, good for 9th in the West in a pack of teams trying to back their way into the playoffs. While Boogie Cousins has been MVP-caliber amazing (28.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 4 mpg), the rest of his roster has typically struggled to keep the pace.

Only Rudy Gay and Darren Collison average over double figures in scoring, meaning Sacramento simply doesn’t know who, night-to-night, will show up and help them win. They do feature Warriors-favorites Matt Barnes and Anthony Tolliver, both of whom are playing close to 20 minutes per contest. Dave Joerger, in his first year coaching the squad, is trying to instill good habits, but simply lacks the talent to compete on an NBA level. He has gotten next to nothing from any of his top draft picks in recent years, leaving the franchise to consider trading their only center piece to prep for another rebuild.

While the eighth spot in the 2017 NBA Playoffs is still in play for these Kings, it would mean a matchup against one of the West elite. They have been linked to many trade rumors as buyers as well, but do they really have the rookies and picks long-term to make a deal? Would a guy like Paul Millsap, who will cost a haul to get, consider staying after the season? Can they get anything for Rudy Gay? So many questions, all leading to the same consistent mediocrity and comedy show that has been Sacramento’s calling card over the last few seasons. But at least they have a new arena!

Who Wins?

Sacramento ranks 23rd in the league in defensive rating, while the Warriors have one of the best offenses in league history. The Kings lack the perimeter defenders to guard Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, and haven't exactly done the best job containing Steph Curry in years past. On defense, Boogie does represent the kind of big body that gives the Warriors fits, and without Andrew Bogut in the middle, Zaza Pachulia might have problems in the middle with the big man. But since Sacramento doesn't have a consistent three-point shooter that averages over 40% from three, the plan will probably be to double-team the ball out of Cousin’s hands most of the time he touches it.

Sacramento has made the Warriors play their A-game in seasons past, but this one is different. This will be a pseudo-home game for Golden State, in a chance to escape away from the ghosts of their home floor for a night to face off against a struggling team that, on paper, they should handle easily.

Sacramento has lost four of five, including three straight home losses. The guess is having a pissed off, redemption-seeking Dubs squad come into town won’t serve too much better for them.

I have Golden State winning this game 121-102.