Fresh off a win against the Lakers last Wednesday, the Golden State Warriors (35-44) will host a Sacramento Kings (23-56) team that just lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. The Dubs should have some fresh legs (the team has not played since Wednesday) for their match up Sunday against the Kings as they try to convincingly win the season series.
The Kings have some talented scorers on the team in the form of Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins that help the team score 99.1 points per game (18th in the NBA) on 45 percent field goal shooting (22nd in the league). Sacramento gets their points by way of perimeter isolations and post ups.
Indeed, Evans and Thornton are gifted players with the ball in their hands who happen to know how to put it in the basket. They do a good job of creating off the dribble to get all the way to the basket where they finish with good regularity. Couple that with DeMarcus Cousins back to the basket game as well as his passing and you have team that can score interior baskets. On the season, Sacramento is averaging 45.3 points in the paint (third best in the NBA), which also translates into 23.9 free throw attempts per game (18th in the league).
Granted, those three players alone do not generate the bulk of the team’s points; they also rely on their transition game to produce 15.1 fast break points per game (ninth in the NBA) as well as their 13.0 offensive rebounds per game (second in the association).
Although the Kings do a good job of generating points in the paint, they struggle to make perimeter shots as evidenced by their 33.8 percent 3-point field goal shooting. As a result, teams might dare them to shoot from deep to limit their high percentage scoring opportunities at the basket. And given the fact that some Kings players often like to go one-on-one and settle for contested perimeter shots, it explains why the team does not have a better collective field goal percentage.
Also an area of concern, Paul Wesphal’s team does a poor job of handling the ball, turning it over 16.1 times per game (28th in the NBA). This weakness is especially important against a Warriors defense that forces the second most miscues in all of the NBA.
On the other side of the ball, the Kings surrender 104.4 points per game (23rd in the NBA) on 47.7 percent field goal shooting (28th in the league). Sacramento struggles on defense because they just cannot seem to defend the interior. On the season, this squad surrenders an astounding 45.9 points in the paint per game (29th in the association).
The Kings struggle to defend players off the dribble, which means that perimeter players can often be found getting in the lane. In addition, the Kings big men do a poor job of contesting shots at the rim without fouling. Consequently, they allow 25.4 free throw attempts per game (21st in the NBA).
On Friday night, Sacramento encountered a Memphis team that leads the league in scoring in the paint. To offset that advantage, the Kings went to a zone because of the Grizzlies inability to hit shots from deep. And although the zone was successful at points in the game, it was flawed in the sense that the perimeter defenders stretched out a bit too high at the 3-point line and thus could allow an extremely easy pass to the high post for an uncontested jumper.
The Grizzlies bailed them out by settling for 3-point shots but the opportunities were there nonetheless.
One would not expect for Paul Westphal to throw out the zone against potent 3-point shooting team like the Warriors, but they are such a poor transition team as we can see from their 17.8 fast break points allowed per game (29th in the NBA) that they might throw it out just to avoid mismatches caused by poor transition defense.
On the off chance that the Kings do throw out the zone to change the flow of the game, David Lee and Dorell Wright could get quite a few opportunities to break down the defense if they flash at the high post from the weak side.
In the three head to head match ups this season, the Kings have surrendered 118.3 points per game on 49.6 percent field goal shooting. Sacramento’s defense yielded 27.3 fast break points on average as well as 50.7 points in the paint per game.
Golden State’s two victories against Sacramento came in overtime whereas their lone defeat came in regulation as the Kings held the Warriors to 21 fast break points and 38 points in the paint. In order for the Dubs to win their last regular season match up against the Kings, they will have to make sure to get out and score in transition and also attack defenders on the perimeter to get scoring opportunities in the half court at the basket.
Sacramento game notes: In two games against the Warriors (missed one game due to injury), Tyreke Evans is averaging 25.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 3.5 steals per game on 38.3 percent field goal shooting.
Golden State game notes: In two games against the Kings this season (missed one game due to injury), Stephen Curry is averaging 26.5 points, 2.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game on 54.3 percent field goal shooting.