The Kings (14-27) play the first game of a back-to-back tonight against the Golden State Warriors at Power Balance Pavilion. The Warriors (17-21) have won three of their last four.
1. If you like scoring, this is a matchup for you. The Kings and Warriors have split their last six meetings, with both teams averaging more than 109 points per game (three of them have gone to overtime). Both teams rank in the bottom five in the NBA in opponents' points per game this season, so this one may come down to who can buckle down on defense and get a few stops. The Kings will want to make sure they ...
2. Get back. The Warriors, and Monta Ellis in particular, get the ball up-court quickly, and the Kings allow the most fast-break points per game in the league. Slowing the ball down in transition and hustling back to the defensive end will be key.
3. And don't forget the shooters. Stephen Curry has been limited lately by his ankle, but the Warriors can still spread the floor with Brandon Rush, Klay Thompson and Dorell Wright. The Kings have had trouble guarding good perimeter-shooting teams, and have been burned by leaving shooters open in key situations in both games against the Warriors this season (Brandon Rush in the fourth quarter on Jan. 31, Klay Thompson in the last seconds of regulation on Feb. 4).
4. And secure rebounds. The Kings have dominated the boards in the past two meetings, and should do so again tonight. DeMarcus Cousins has averaged 17 rebounds in those games and Jason Thompson 13.5. Kings head coach Keith Smart on Monday urged the Kings to concentrate on closing out defensive possessions. If the Kings work hard enough to force a miss, they need to make sure the effort isn't for naught.
5. Meanwhile, the Warriors will have a slightly different look inside. Ekpe Udoh recently supplanted Andris Biedrins as the Warriors' starting center. Udoh, though, has actually played more minutes than Biedrins against the Kings this season, and has had a significant impact defensively. According to NBA.com statistics, the Kings have shot 37.1 percent in 53 minutes with Udoh on the floor, compared to 49.5 percent in 48 minutes with Udoh watching from the bench.