Kings-Warriors: What to watch for

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Kings-Warriors: What to watch for

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.

With Zaza out for Game 4, Brown has two options for fifth starter

With Zaza out for Game 4, Brown has two options for fifth starter

SAN ANTONIO -- Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was officially declared out prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs on Monday night.

Pachulia sustained a right heel contusion is the first half of Game 2 last Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. He has since done very little in practice and was listed as doubtful on the morning injury report.

Though acting head coach Mike Brown did not name backup center JaVale McGee to replace Pachulia in the starting lineup, that is the expectation. McGee started Game 3 on Saturday night and played well.

Brown gave himself some wiggle room, saying the Warriors could opt for rookie wing Pat McCaw if the Spurs start with a small lineup.

“For us, it's not that big of a deal,” Brown said in his pregame news conference. “We're either going to start JaVale or Patrick McCaw. We haven't made a decision yet, and I don't know when we're going to make a decision, but we'll go between those two guys.”

 

Spurs rule Leonard out for Game 4 against Warriors

Spurs rule Leonard out for Game 4 against Warriors

SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took a seat at the podium for his pregame news conference and confirmed what had been anticipated for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors.

All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard will be on the sideline for the third consecutive game.

Leonard twice aggravated his sprained left ankle in the third quarter of Game 1 at Oracle Arena and has not practiced since. Though he was listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report Monday morning -- the Spurs did not have a shootaround -- it was a foregone conclusion he would not play.

Popovich made the announcement by answering a question about Leonard’s status with two words: “Same, same” before confirming he would be out.

The Warriors have outscored the Spurs 302-253 since Leonard left with 7:53 left in the third quarter of Game 1.