Kings-Warriors: What to watch for

January 31, 2012, 5:29 pm
Share This Post

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors Pregame Live starts tonight at 7, followed by Warriors-Kings at 7:30, and Warriors Postgame Live at 10 -- all on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

It has not been a good season for the Warriors or Kings. TheWarriors are 6-12 and are in 13th place in the Western Conference.The Kings are 6-14 and in 14th place in the WesternConference.The teams will play each other twice in the next five days --Tuesday night at Oracle Arena and Saturday in Sacramento.Warriors coach Mark Jackson continues to maintain his team willmake the playoffs, although the longer the season progresses the more of alongshot that seems.Here are some things to watch for:Coaching matchup: Keith Smart coached theWarriors to 10 more wins in 2010-11 than they had the previous season. But thatwasnt good enough for owner Joe Lacob, who fired Smart and hired Jackson afterthe season.In a strange turn, Smart became an assistant coach inSacramento, then ascended to the head position after Paul Westphal was fired.There is a segment of Warriors fans who dont believe Smart deserved to befired and that Golden State might be better off with him in charge right now.Regardless, despite that both teams are struggling, thisshould be a game that both Jackson and Smart want badly.Interior battle: The Kings areinconsistent up front, but they are big. Sacramento will play DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson plenty of minutes and thats the kind ofbruising and physical front line that gives the Warriors difficulty.Jackson has shown an unwillingness to play Andris Biedrinsor Ekpe Udoh late in games, often using David Lee at the five. During thosetimes, the Warriors have been susceptible to giving up second shots and beingoverwhelmed inside.The backcourt: If the Warriors expect towin this game, theyll have to win the backcourt matchup. Stephen Curry andMonta Ellis would seem to have an advantage against Tyreke Evans and JimmerFredette. Expect the Warriors to attack Fredette, a defensively challengedcombo guard.Bench play: During the course of theseason, Jackson has consistently praised his teams bench, particularly theplay of Nate Robinson, Brandon Rush and Klay Thompson.The Warriors bench has often come into games and changedthe momentum. In fact, Jackson has intimated that there may be times in thefuture when he allows some of his bench players to finish out games.