Time: Saturday, April 15th, 2023, 8:30 PM, EST (ABC)
Location: Golden 1 Center (Sacramento, California)
If there’s one series to pay attention to in the first round of the NBA playoffs, it’s Kings vs Warriors. This is the only first round series where the lower seed (Warriors) is favored to beat the higher seed. That alone provides a ton of intrigue. The 6th seeded Warriors are actually significant favorites, with future odds ranging from -260 to -300 to take the series across the major sportsbook platforms. They actually have the 4th best championship odds on both DraftKings and FanDuel despite their low seeding. Additionally, if you’re a fan of scoring points, this is a series between the top two scoring offenses in the league who both also sport bottom-10 defenses. Don’t be surprised if both teams are pushing 120 every night.
The Sacramento Kings just ended a 16-year playoff streak. That was 10 years longer than any other current playoff drought. They basically haven’t been good since the heyday of Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic back in the early 2000s.
The other big storyline surrounding the Kings this season was their trade last year for Domantas Sabonis. They gave up Tyrese Haliburton, and the aftermath of the move was monitored closely. The Kings were largely seen as the loser of that trade. They were laughed at for giving up such a young talent with a bright future in Haliburton. While Halliburton was an All Star this season, Sabonis was as well, and his 19 points, (league leading) 12.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists were instrumental in writing the Kings’ successful turnaround story this season. They may have drawn an unlucky straw by getting the defending champion Warriors in the first round, but first year head coach Mike Brown (and leading candidate for coach of the year) knows a thing or two about Golden State. The Kings won’t be pushed aside easily.
The Golden State Warriors’ up and down season culminated in a 6th seed finish. It’s not a position this team is used to with a healthy Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, but the team is confident as ever. Andrew Wiggins’ return to the court after a 25-game absence should also give them a boost.
The Warriors’ biggest weakness this season has been anywhere they’ve played that wasn’t the Chase Center. They were 11-30 playing on the road this season, which doesn’t bode well for a 6th seeded team without home court advantage. That being said, Sacramento is only an hour down the road from Oakland. The Warriors also comically outweigh the Kings in one intangible aspect – experience. That could prove very important in this series. Nine players on the Warriors current roster were there last season and won a championship, including their top-5 scorers in both seasons. Steph, Klay, and Draymond (and Andre Iguodala) all have four rings with the team and Kevon Looney has three. They can easily catch a young, inexperienced Kings team off guard top open up first round play.
The Kings are going to make this series close, but they are going to have to get their toes wet first. The Warriors are going to land the first punch. They know how important home court advantage is, especially to them. They will go all out to steal Game 1 on the road.
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