The Pick: Warriors 104-93
The Warriors have lost five of six while the Kings have lost three in a row, so something has to give tonight when the two teams square off for the second time this season. Golden State took the first meeting, beating Sacramento into the ground one month ago behind the sharp-shooting of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, who were a combined 18-of-30 for 49 points. Golden State winning because of that duo’s heroics is nothing new, but winning a game in which they attempted only 12 free throws despite Curry having seven turnovers, while Harrison Barnes/Jermaine O’Neal didn’t suit up, is far from the norm.
Andre Iguodala did not play in the first meeting and while his injury hurts the Warriors in a big way, I don’t expect his absence to play a role in this one. The Kings are one of the few teams in the NBA that doesn’t rely on an athletic swing man to facilitate the offense, thus making Barnes a reasonable replacement.
Statistically speaking, the Kings figure to struggle to keep pace with the Warriors on the offensive end. Golden State is the no. 1 team in the league in terms of 3P% and 3PM, categories that Sacramento ranks 25th and 20th in respectively. The Warriors are also extremely efficient on both sides of the court as they rank fourth in points per shot (PPS) and seventh in defensive efficiency. The Kings on the other hand, rank 24th in PPS and 27th in defensive efficiency.
Sacramento is also giving up 1.26 PPS, the 25th-worst mark in the NBA, and a weakness that the Warriors figure to exploit with regularity (SAC also ranks in among the bottom eight defenses in FG% and 3P% against). The average NBA team takes roughly 83 shots per game, which equates to 104 points if they are scoring 1.25 points per FGA. The Kings have scored more than 104 points only three times this season (against the Phoenix Suns twice and the Brooklyn Nets) and I don’t seem approaching that number in this one.
Fun Fact: “The Super Splash Bros” may garner most of the attention, but another Warriors duo has been very effective when playing on the road. Andrew Bogut and Barnes are combining for 21.6 points on 54.3 percent shooting from the field during road games this season, resulting in them being the only two healthy Golden State players averaging more than 1.3 points per shot away from home.