Round 1 game 1: One for the thumb
Wiggins is back, and the champs are ready to chase another repeat
This is it! The Golden State Warriors have made it through the regular season and can see a path back to another chance for a ring. A fifth ring for the core would be an astonishing accomplishment considering where this team was when they drafted Stephen Curry. But that skinny young kid that famously tweeted out his promise to all the Warrior fans has done the impossible, and now it’s an altogether different vibe as the battle-scarred Warriors start the playoffs again.
Promise to all the Warrior fans...we will figure this thing out...if it's the last thing we do we will figure it out
-Stephen Curry, November 11th, 2009
On the other side of the court, it’s the long-suffering Sacramento Kings that are trying to foment some championships of their own. The Kings will present some unique challenges, and will also have the added insight of ex-Warriors coach Mike Brown - who just won a well-deserved coach of the year award for helping transform the Kangz into a lovable, respectable team that actually managed to win a bunch of games.
The biggest news coming into tonight’s game is that Andrew Wiggins is back. The expectation is that he’s probably going to be on some sort of minutes restriction after missing so much time, but I wouldn’t assume anything. With no warm up games, this is going to be a steep transition for Wiggins. Per Anthony Slater of the Athletic, Golden State is leaning toward Wiggins coming off the bench with a reported 20-25 minute limit.
WHO: Golden State Warriors at Sacramento King
WHEN: Saturday, April 15th, 2023 // 5:30pm PST
Blog Buddy: The Kings Herald
Twice the offense, but what about defense?
The Sacramento Kings had the most efficient offense over the course of the regular season. In fact, it was (according to the statistics) the most efficient offense that the NBA has ever fielded. Of course, the rules have changed and those numbers don’t survive historical scrutiny - but nonetheless, it’s a lethal show. The Warriors aren’t zeroes, and even with the well documented struggles all season, they still managed to squeak into the top-10 NBA offenses - barely, but it counts!
According to Cleaning the Glass (which excludes garbage time, for better or worse), both teams end up with the exact same point differential: +2.4 points per 100 possessions - despite the Kings scoring around 3 more points on offense. Here’s the full snapshot showing offense. As always with these, remember that the colored boxes show percentile ranks, with the raw value (per 100 possessions) to the right.
No big surprises here for those who have been watching. Under Mike Brown, the Kings have unlocked their offense. They score in bunches, do so efficiently, and rarely turn the ball over. The Warriors ended up actually being okay on the season in regards to their offense. Sure, the team turns the ball over a lot (on 15.8% of their possessions, which is in the bottom third of the league at the 29th percentile) and hardly shoot any free throws - but the Warriors have proved over and over again that this cannot be their achilles heel by definition because they keep managing to win like this.
But can the Kings play defense? That’s what the series is going to swing on. If the Warriors play their game then they will be able to at least partially foil the strong Sacramento offense - but do the Kings have that switch in them?
When it comes to defense, the pendulum swing back towards Golden State. Whether or not the Kings can hang with the Warriors’ two-way excellence will go a long way towards deciding which way this series will swing.
One game doesn’t make the series, but I expect the Warriors to come out with a strong focus on stealing game one. It’s going to be emotional in Sacramento, and the Warriors veteran core is ready find that next gear. Dubs win by double digits.
Warriors in six.
Post game thread: https://dubnationhq.com/p/post-game-thread-kings-win-random?sd=pf
I confirm my feeling. SAC in 7, LAL in 7, DEN in 7, Finals I don’t dare.