Warriors (1-3) at Sacramento Kings (2-4)
At ARCO Arena, Sacramento
Tonight, 6 p.m., CSN Bay Area, NBA TV
Kings points per game: 101.8
Warriors points per game: 102.8
Kings points allowed per game: 106.7
Warriors points allowed per game: 113.5
Kings probable starting lineup
PG-Beno Udrih (10.8 points, 3.2 assists)
SG-Tyreke Evans (14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 steals)
SF-Andres Nocioni (10.5 points, 4.0 rebounds)
PF-Jason Thompson (11.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.3 blocks)
C-Spencer Hawes (11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds)
Key reserves (Paul Westphal’s rotation has been inconsistent so far this season): F Omri Casspi (9.2 points, 2.2 rebounds), G/F Ime Udoka (5.0 points, 3.0 rebounds), F/C Sean May (3.5 points, 2.0 rebounds)
Here’s a look at what a rival scout reported about the Kings in Sports Illustrated’s NBA preview:
Kevin Martin is their No. 1 guy, but on a good team he would be the third-best player. He can’t create his own shot. He has deceptive speed, a quick first step, and he’s one of the best players at drawing fouls. I can’t believe defenders still go for that exaggerated ball fake of his. … One of the things they liked about Tyreke Evans is his ability to get into the paint, draw the defense and then kick it out. That’s something Martin needs, and he didn’t get it last year from Beno Udrih. … Jason Thompson has a lot of versatility. Though he was very foul prone last year, I give him credit for that because it happened from competing on every play. … Spencer Hawes is only 21, but he has a chance to become one of the better centers in the NBA; he’s probably still five or six years from reaching his peak. He can shoot it facing up, and he has a decent jump hook with his right hand. He’s not a physical rebounder, but he’s a hard worker and very talented. … Andres Nocioni is a really bad fit. Teams like this need talent, guys who can create and score, whereas Nocioni brings toughness and competitiveness. He’d be the icing on the cake for a good team.
The Warriors haven’t shown yet this season that they’re good enough to overlook any team, even a team like the Kings, who were picked by many to be the worst team in the Western Conference this season. Things went from bad to worse for Sacramento earlier this week when they found out their top gun, Kevin Martin, who was averaging 30.6 points per game, was going to have surgery on his injured wrist. With a projected recovery time of at least six weeks, a roster already thin on talent looked doomed.
Then Tyreke Evans happened.
The rookie guard, the fourth overall selection in last summer’s NBA draft, stepped in for Martin and led the Kings to a surprising 104-99 win against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night in Salt Lake City. Evans had career highs of 32 points and seven assists. He was very aggressive taking the ball to the basket and earned 19 free-throw attempts for his effort. Evans will be an interesting player to watch tonight and through the rest of the season, as he will likely challenge for rookie of the year honors.
With that nice story out of the way, let’s be honest: the Kings are not a good team. They are poor defensively (opponents shoot 50.3 percent from the field and 43.0 percent from the 3-point line – sadly, the Warriors are worse at 51.5 percent and 47.1 percent). They are not a good offensive unit, with a team field-goal percentage of 43.4 percent. The only thing they do well is shoot the 3-point shot (39.7 percent as a team on more than 19 attempts per game), but with Martin out, that’s not a sure thing anymore.
It would help the Warriors if they have Andris Biedrins back in the lineup at center (he didn’t practice Saturday, so I wouldn’t count on it), but even without Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf, the Warriors should be able to compete well against this team.
This is a game the Warriors have to win. Lose, and this season starts to spiral out of control far too early. Lose, and the mood in the locker room gets even more dark. Lose, and the fragile chemistry that does exist on this team could snap. If the Warriors want to make anything of this season, they have to man up and win this game.
Prediction: Warriors 106, Kings 102