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Royal Roundtable: Warriors, come out to Play

In the first of a two part roundtable series, The Kings Herald Staff looks ahead to the matchup against the defending Champs.
By | 22 Comments | Apr 12, 2023

Nov 13, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

With the first round series against the Golden State Warriors just around the corner, the Kings Herald staff got together to take a look at Sacramento’s first playoff series in 17 years and offer our perspectives.

Q: The Kings are widely considered underdogs in this series even with homecourt advantage, but what do you think their biggest advantage is against the Warriors?

Akis: I think Domantas Sabonis is the biggest advantage the Kings have against the Warriors.  We’ve seen over the past season that not much can stop Sabonis but there are definitely certain types of players that bother him, usually ones with extreme length and excellent shotblocking ability. The Warriors don’t really have that. In three games against the Warriors this season, Sabonis averaged 21.3 points, 16.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Kevon Looney is a capable big, but he’s slowfooted and isn’t much of a shotblocker.  Draymond Green is a very good defender and will probably see a large amount of time on Sabonis, but Sabonis has size and strength on him.  It’s a positional advantage that I’m sure the Kings will look to exploit.

Rob H.:  I’ll go with simplicity here. The Kings have played better basketball more consistently all season long. I know the old adage is that defense wins championships, but I’ll go with my newer adage of 6th seeds don’t win championships. The Warriors are faced with finding and maintaining a gear and level of play that the Kings have largely maintained throughout the season and especially after the all-star break. Also, the Kings do not have to re-define roles as they enter the post-season, while the Warriors need to re-integrate Wiggins. The symmetry of the Kings roster is at least a slight edge, in my opinion.

Bryant: De’Aaron Fox. Unless Andrew Wiggins returns to Finals 2022 form immediately, the Warriors have no one who can stick with Fox for a full series. The inverse is true for the Warriors stars, but if Fox picks his spots and stays locked in (and lessens his pull-up threes a tad), he can blast the Warriors. I’m hoping and expecting Fox stays locked in the whole series – when the Dubs come out in Game 1 and try to punch these young Kings in the mouth, Fox needs to be the one who responds. As he has all season long.

Tim: Mike Brown. Yes, Steve Kerr is a great coach, but Mike Brown has been there and done that just as often as Steve Kerr. Mike Brown will motivate this team with bulletin board material all series long, while also coaching the heck out of the strategic aspect of the game. There’s a reason the Kings were the fifth-best third quarter team in the NBA this year, as they outscored their opponents by 94 points. I trust his coaching more than anyone since Adelman, and I expect him to be a huge difference-maker. 

Omer: The Kings’ biggest advantage is that, despite Golden State’s experience edge, they haven’t played anybody in the playoffs who plays an offensive style like Sacramento. Historically, teams have attacked the Warriors by leaning heavily into isoball (think LeBron James and the Cavaliers or James Harden and the Rockets). The Warriors did dispatch Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets last season, but that team was missing almost all of its firepower outside of the MVP. The Kings are fully healthy and have weapons all over the court, using Golden State’s own offensive concepts to spring their scorers open. We’ve seen teams suffer from culture shock trying to guard the frenzied motion the Warriors throw out there in the playoffs. How will the Warriors respond having to guard something similar for the first time? 

Kevin: I’ll keep it simple and just point to a little thing we like to call HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE. Sacramento will have it this entire series and the Warriors are 11-30 on the road. If Golden State is banking on a friendly road environment based on proximity to the Bay, I think they’ll find they’re incredibly mistaken. This city hasn’t seen a playoff game in 17 years and this is absolutely going to be one of the most hostile playoff environments the league has ever witnessed. Not only that but the Warriors have a 118 DRtg (-4.2 NETRtg) on the road and the Kings are 37-22 against teams with a 113 or worse DRtg this season. Sac is going to SCORE at home and Warriors will have to find a way to keep up and keep the crowd out of the game. Golden State has proven to be capable of that historically but are the 2022-23 Warriors capable? We’ll find out. Either way, G1C is the Kings X-Factor in my opinion. 

Melissa: While the Warriors will have the best player on the court this series, the Kings are clearly the better team. There’s a depth to this Sacramento franchise that could be a huge factor should this series stretch to six or seven games. The athleticism and scoring that the Kings can bring off the bench is stronger than Golden State’s, and while it’s inexperienced, several of those guys have had big games in huge moments this regular season. While Sacramento will need Malik Monk to be great, guys like Terence Davis, Trey Lyles, Davion Mitchell, and Kessler Edwards have all stepped up when called upon. I also think that Domantas Sabonis is going to give the combination of Draymond Green and Kevon Looney all they want and more.

Bradley: Seeding doesn’t matter here. The Warriors proved they can win from behind last year. However, this is the most vulnerable a Warriors team looked – save for the play-in season. The Kings should treat it as any other games and make 35-year-old Steph Curry play their game instead of trying to play the Warriors. It will be interesting to see how Mike Brown’s inside baseball knowledge factors in here.

Greg: House money. Nobody expected the Kings to be here. Most outside of Sacramento don’t expect the Kings to win this series despite being the three seed. All the pressure is on the Warriors, who are supposed to be the experienced team that can turn it on. We all want the Kings to advance, but everything at this point is just gravy. The vibes aren’t going to turn against the Kings if they drop a game or fall behind in the series. The same can’t be said for the Warriors. Golden State started the season with Draymond Green punching a teammate. How quickly will their vibes turn sour if they fall behind to the Kings?

Q:  What are you most looking forward to seeing from the Kings in this series?

Akis:  I’m hoping to see the Kings step up in the spotlight. They have seemingly done that all season in big moments, like the two nationally televised games and their huge clutch wins all year.  They tend to get in trouble when they seemingly don’t take an opponent seriously but in the playoffs, that shouldn’t be a problem, especially against the defending champions.  And of all the guys I’m looking forward to seeing in a playoff environment, it’s Mr. Clutch himself, De’Aaron Fox. Nobody seems to thrive in the moment more than him, and this is going to be his welcome party to the national stage.

Rob H: Incremental playoff growth, especially for Sabonis, Fox, Murray and Huerter. Get the most out of this experience.

Bryant: What Rob said. Win or lose, I want to see this Kings team show up in these big moments and continue to develop as a team. But also, one poster dunk by Fox over Draymond Green. 

Tim: I’m excited to see this team grow together in an entirely new environment. We’ve seen young teams come together in the postseason (the Grizzlies), and we’ve seen young teams make the playoffs and fall apart shortly thereafter, never to find that high again (the Hawks). I want this core to rally together through wins and losses, lows and highs. That will build a sustainable culture for the next half-decade, rather than one mini-run that falters in the next few years. 

Omer: It’ll be great to see how the Kings’ current core functions in the playoffs and have their weaknesses clearly laid out. The regular season and the playoffs are almost a different sport. In the playoffs, a team is completely focused on you and your weaknesses. It has a way of exposing holes in your roster you didn’t even know existed. For example, last year’s Phoenix Suns won 64 games but they were completely unprepared to guard the Dallas Mavericks when they went to a shooter at the 5 in Maxi Kleber. It came completely out of left field. We think we know what this roster needs to take the next steps, but we might find out there’s even more than we envisioned.

Kevin: I think Akis nailed it. This team has risen to the occasion time and time again. This is obviously the biggest stage yet but they really seem to relish these moments and put on a show. Not only that, but they seem to be fueled by doubt and there really just couldn’t be more of it than there is right now, could there? More than anything, the Beam Team seems to be driven by the media’s insistence that this entire experiment was a mistake from the outset. Let’s run down the list hot takes this season: The Haliburton for Sabonis trade was “malpractice,” Fox was the “wrong choice,” Sabonis was a “fake all-star,” Keegan was the wrong pick, the Kings were a play-in team at best, and despite their midseason record Sacramento still had no chance to make the playoffs because of the moves every other team made at the deadline. The Kings responded to all the doubters by becoming the most efficient offense in NBA history, producing 2 All-NBA candidate All-Stars, the best Rookie shooter in league history, a 6th Man Of The Year candidate, a Coach Of The Year candidate, a Clutch Player Of The Year candidate, an Exec Of The Year candidate and lighting the goddamn BEAM night in and night out. Now the prevailing thought amongst experts is the Kings are some kind of fraudulent 3 seed that slipped in the back door? I anxiously await the Kings response.

Melissa: The vibes on this team have been immaculate this season, and they will be immeasurable Saturday night. Though the Kings haven’t been great at home, nobody is going to have a better home-court advantage in the postseason than Sacramento, as this fanbase is going to be frothing at the mouth when the first game tips. I can’t wait until that first offensive rebound/putback/and-one by Domas, the deep three off the fingertips of Red Velvet, the stop on a dime floater from Fox in the fourth quarter and the way the arena responds. Sacramento fans have stood by the Kings in the hard times, they are going to lose their damn minds with something to celebrate.

Bradley: De’Aaron Fox, all day. The guy is fearless and hasn’t erred too often in the way you might expect from a guy who just now got to the playoffs. He showed whispers of a killer instinct all year, but performing in the playoffs is what makes his legacy stronger. I expect him to have off-nights, but I expect some of them to turn into special moments that we remember 16 years from now when we get to experience the playoffs, yet again.

Greg: All of it. I’m ready for this Kings team to have a moment in the sun. In the playoffs, on national television, in what will likely be the first time that many casual NBA fans have watched the Kings in years. I want to see the Kings do what they do on the biggest stage.

Q:  How are the Kings going to deal with the Splash Brothers?

Akis:  How does anyone deal with the Splash Brothers?  Nobody has really managed to answer this question and I’m not sure the Kings will be able to either.  This is a team that hasn’t lost a Western Conference Playoff series under Steve Kerr and it’s largely because of Curry and Thompson’s brilliance.  There’s going to be a game or two that the Kings lose in this series simply because one of them or even both of them goes off and that happens.  Mike Brown is going to try to do his best to get the ball out of their hands, but it’s hard to stop those guys at all.  I think the Kings will need to do their best to minimize the damage that the rest of the Warriors do instead.  You can’t have random guys like Donte DiVincenzo or Jonathan Kuminga having huge games in addition to Curry and Thompson doing their usual.

Rob H: Create a diversion on the Yolo Causeway? Really, I’ve got nothing here.

Bryant: Pick a god and pray. 

Tim: Free bacon cheeseburgers delivered to their room. 

Omer: Well for starters they have to communicate on defense, which hasn’t exactly been a strong point for the Kings all season. The Warriors will run Curry and Thompson off of screens and cuts all night and if there is even one breakdown, Draymond Green will find one of the two springing open for three or a layup. Then they have to stay disciplined in their coverages when Curry runs high pick-and-roll. I expect them to blitz often to get the ball out of Curry’s hands early, but also expect Mike Brown to dial up junk defenses like the box-and-one and zone defenses to keep the Warriors on their toes. Let’s be honest though, there’s no real good answer to the Splash Brothers or somebody would have thought of it already. Curry is one of the two best scorers on the planet and Thompson had a career year shooting the three. I don’t expect the Kings to be the first team to solve this puzzle.

Kevin: I’m not sure anyone “stops” them to be honest. Hopefully Mike Brown’s understanding of their offense and tendencies allows him to scheme up a little something when it matters most, because I think each game is likely to come down to a stop or two. That said, I also haven’t seen these Warriors come close to stopping the full strength Kings either. I think the Kings need to rely on the fact that they can outscore them if they win the possession battle. Value the ball on offense, don’t supply them with additional opportunities, get to loose balls, box out, and rebound their faces off. If the Kings win the possession battle, they can win the series and it won’t matter what the Splash Brothers do. 

Melissa: A few years ago, I was in Oklahoma City covering the Big 12 Basketball Tournament, and just happened to have the evening free for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals between the Thunder and Warriors. I was in the building for Klay Thompson’s 41-point, 11 three-pointer performance, and it’s something I will never forget. You can’t really go into a series against Klay and Steph expecting to stop them or really even slow them down; you have to hope one of them has an off night or that you’ve got guards that can match them bucket for bucket. If it comes down to the latter, the Fox-Curry battle will be one of the most entertaining of the postseason, but don’t sleep on Klay and Keegan/Kevin trying to outshoot each other either.

Bradley: Both will have their moments. The key is to play Kings basketball instead of playing Warriors basketball. Trying to be the Warriors against the Warriors was the crux of nearly every downfall at the Warriors hand since 2015. Play Kings basketball. Mike Brown is uniquely well-equipped to handle Steph and Klay. However, if Klay or Steph are godly, the best the Kings can do is weather the storm.

Greg: You don’t. Just outscore them. Defense is for nerds.

Q:  Aside from Curry and Thompson, which Warriors player do you foresee giving the Kings the most problems?

Akis:  There’s a few options here, but I’m going to go with Draymond Green.  Green doesn’t put up the biggest stats but I have a feeling that after this series, he’s going to be the most hated player in Sacramento since Rick Fox.  That’s also exactly what he wants. He wants to rile up the other team. He’s going to be chirping, he’s going to be scrappy and he’s going to be trash talking the entire time.  The Kings are going to have to keep their cool and play through it and hopefully if they can they get the last laugh.

Rob H: The Notorious DDV. Because, you know, ex-King. Honorable mention to Iguodala, who comes back to haunt the Kings despite being out due to wrist surgery. Iggy’s gonna try to Willie Reed us in game 7.

Bryant: Andrew Wiggins, if he is ready to go. He was the Dubs’ second best player in their final run last year. If he’s not 100%, Kevon Looney is going to eat on the glass. Aside from Sabonis (and Keegan Murray’s second-half season spurt), I don’t trust any King on the glass and Looney is one hell of an offensive rebounder. 

Tim: Draymond Green is an incredibly special player on an incredibly special team. He’s going to muck up Domantas Sabonis’ passing lanes. He’s going to switch in transition and clog up the lane. He’s going to get in guys’ faces. He’s going to complain to the refs, not get t’d up, and get calls going his team’s way. He’s going to be annoying as hell. That’s his role, and he plays it incredibly well. The Kings just need to play their game and not worry about Draymond’s extracurricular activity. 

Omer: If Andrew Wiggins is healthy, he’s the type of player that has given the Kings issues this year: a speedy, athletic wing who can shoot. The Kings’ combination of Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray on the wings is vulnerable to quicker, athletic types. But Wiggins might be rusty and unconditioned, so I’m going to go with Gary Payton II. He’s a ball hawk and given the Kings’ heavy reliance on ball movement, he can have an underrated impact by jumping passing lanes and causing turnovers. 

Kevin: I’m a little worried about Draymond’s ability to change a game, or even an entire series, with his style of play and antics. This team has remained pretty composed all season but I fully expect Draymond to dig deep into his bag of tricks and pull out all the stops to get some kind of reaction from somebody. Can the Kings remain poised in the most intense moments of the series if he decides to start baiting them? 

Melissa: I mean everyone is saying it, but it’s hard not to pick Draymond Green. For me, it’s as much about what he does off the court as on, as his head games and antics could muck with the chemistry that has made the Kings so special this season. He’s already dropping little nuggets in interviews and on his podcast that could either light a fire or cast a seed of doubt, and we know that he will be playing his best basketball when the postseason starts. Green is an elite troll, and while he gets a ton of techs, he also gets a ton of calls in his favor.

Bradley: Wiggins. All that time off and the ensuing, overly personal discourse made him hungry. He’s proven he can hang on the big stage and is the type of guy who benefits from any schemes that target Steph and Klay. I fear not  the echoes of a man who was once Draymond Green. I do fear the impact his shenanigans have on how the game is called. However, these young guys are perfectly equipped to match his terrible 90s high school b-movie  trash talk with a smile and a win.

Greg: Jordan Poole, and I’m shocked I’m the first to mention him. He’s not a guy who will give the Kings problems every game, he’s too inconsistent. But there’s probably going to be at least one game where Poole absolutely goes off and gives the Kings fits.

Part two of the Staff Roundtable is coming tomorrow. Let us know your own thoughts in the comments below!

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22 Comments
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Kosta
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April 12, 2023 10:47 am

I’m just hoping Rick Barry is rooting for the team his son played for.

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AmateurNerd
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April 12, 2023 10:51 am

You just know Draymond’s going to come out and spend the whole of Game 1 mugging Domas while the refs look on dispassionately.

Kosta
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April 12, 2023 10:55 am
Reply to  AmateurNerd

I’m expecting thumb wrestling and nut punches.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
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April 12, 2023 11:24 am
Reply to  Kosta

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TheBufferZone
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April 13, 2023 4:28 am
Reply to  AmateurNerd

This is my worry. When calls are not going Domas’s way, he loses his head a bit & is thrown off his game.

Draymond is going to make it his mission to neutralize Domas.

AmateurNerd
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April 13, 2023 10:04 am
Reply to  TheBufferZone

Yep. And the best way for Domas to deal with him is to give back every bit as much as he takes. Even better, take the initiative and knock Draymond right on his ass at the tip, then stand over him and start yapping. Sure, it might result in a tech, but it will send an important message. Immature bullies like Draymond can’t be avoided, but they can be beaten at their own game.

oshima9
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April 12, 2023 12:27 pm

Melissa is correct, the Kings’ athleticism will carry them through this series against a great, but aging Warriors team. The athleticism, combined with their youth (I know, they often go together), will wear down the Warriors who lack a consistent bench. Davion will be a big part of this. The Warriors will be forced to play Green, Curry and Thompson a lot of minutes, and they will tire in the later games. They are getting older, and have played a huge number of postseason games in addition to regular season ones.

Murray is also an emerging star, and this series is where he gets the chance to show it. If he plays as well as I believe he will, the Warriors have no chance to win.

GlueAndBold
April 12, 2023 3:08 pm
Reply to  oshima9

Warriors fans are pretty high on our bench, as after the starting 5 (in which I’m placing Wiggins), you have Poole, Donte DeVincenzo, Gary Payton II, Kuminga and Moody. All of those guys except Poole can play D, and the offensive threat is pretty well-rounded with this group as well.

oshima9
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April 12, 2023 10:52 pm
Reply to  GlueAndBold

Moody has been horrible, and has a lot of DNPs. Kuminga and DeVincenzo have been inconsistent. If they can all play D, why have the Warriors been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA?

I watched a fair number of Warriors games, and recognized that Kerr was unable to find a consistent bench rotation. Of course, the Kings didn’t have this problem.

Kingsguru21
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April 13, 2023 9:43 am
Reply to  oshima9

I’m personally looking forward to (I’m a sicko admittedly) Davion putting the Poole party in jail. He’s had a pretty up and down year offensively, but not so defensively. Putting Poole in his own personal hell would be fun. But I know pretty much everyone outside of Kingsland would scoff at that notion, which is fine.

Proof, as always, is in the puddin’. But I’m looking forward to that matchup personally.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kingsguru21
AmateurNerd
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April 13, 2023 10:06 am
Reply to  oshima9

Murray is the X factor for the Kings. He’s a great young player who has shown a tendency to defer and disappear in tense moments and big matchups. If he can stay confident in his own abilities and assert himself, he could be the difference in this series.

andy_sims
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April 12, 2023 12:36 pm

Very thorough discussion with a lot of great points made, but that table is clearly octagonal.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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April 12, 2023 12:40 pm

Tim: Free bacon cheeseburgers delivered to their room. 

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BeTheBall
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April 12, 2023 1:11 pm

The only thing I’m going to hate about this series is watching Draymond be allowed (multiple times a quarter) scream at the refs for 2 minutes straight during a play-stoppage…complete with spittle flying out of his mouth and into the face of the refs….only to have a guy like Edwards get T’d up for calmly walking away from a ref and sheepishly muttering “damn, that was a terrible call”

oshima9
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April 12, 2023 10:53 pm
Reply to  BeTheBall

Forgot about Edwards. He could be important defensively in this series.

andy_sims
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April 13, 2023 10:23 am
Reply to  oshima9

Yeah, he’s going to spend a lot of time hassling Klay if Sacramento wants to keep that man in check at all.

Kosta
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April 12, 2023 1:38 pm

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Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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April 12, 2023 5:20 pm

Which Warriors do I worry about aside from Curry and Klay? None, but I’m not going to lie…it’s the refs. If Sabonis gets called for fouls breathing on Steph all while Draymond can scream profanities at the them, then this is going to be a disappointing series. Also, nothing drives me more mad about the Warriors than their moving screens that don’t get called. Their off ball moving screens for Curry and Klay and PnR hip checks drive me bananas.

outrider
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April 12, 2023 8:28 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

It’s been a couple of years and i don’t remember what exactly set Green off, but he stood there yelling at a female ref, calling her a fucking bitch. Not exactly a shock from a dick like him, but nobody said anything or did anything. None of the W players or coaches approached him or uttered a peep. It was so blatant and disrespectful I though he might even be suspended a game or something. Nope. IIRC, he wasn’t even fined!

Maybe he’s a stand up dude off the court, I don’t know, but I really dislike him when he’s on a basketball court.

Last edited 1 year ago by outrider
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April 12, 2023 5:40 pm

turnovers. that is where the Warriors have been most vulnerable all year.

Anybody on the over/under for 4 point plays (especially Poole and Steph)?

Kingsguru21
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April 12, 2023 8:11 pm

FT’s too. The Kings average 5 more FTA than the Warriors do. Their advantage will be points off turnovers, paint points and free throws made IMO. Their eFG% will be roughly equal, but when you factor those other 3 in the Kings will have a bigger advantage.

nonstripedzebra
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April 13, 2023 7:53 am

There are three key areas I am thinking about.

First is Sabonis against Looney and Draymond. Because of how questionable our D can be I think Kerr has the option of playing both regardless if it limits their spacing. And that allows Green to dance on that end which is scary. Can Sabonis make Looney pay is a variable? Kevon for my money is one of the most underrated players in the league. Sabonis is a genius offensively. Im sure even in a poor night he can leverage gravity or set some picks etc but still. But that combo clicking I could see diminish Domas choreographing the offense or garnering rebounds.

Second is what Wiggins shows up and how that effects matchups on Fox. Regardless of the time missed Maple Jordan was slightly off earlier in the year. Granted last spring he was a total X factor. His competency or readiness alters my thoughts on our biggest strength in this series which is Fox. All year i’ve been more on the Sabonis>Fox in relation to impact. That said I don’t see the Warriors really having an answer for the latter if Wiggins isn’t quite up to speed. DeAaron gets to his spots at ease, draws fouls with the best of them, can exhaust them in transition, make them pay in the midrange. Beyond his own production that might be enough of a distraction to allow our shooters room and the offense to get chugging.

Third is hopeful for the Kings but is the Warriors turnovers, and our ability to capitalize on that. GSW led the league in giving up the ball, have kept that practice post the all star break. Maybe it being the playoffs that changes, but the Kings should be able to fetch points on that front. As our defense has questions them gifting possessions may be crucial in momentum swings.

Last edited 1 year ago by nonstripedzebra

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