Arguably the most entertaining series in the first round of the NBA playoffs has been this inter-state showdown between the Warriors and Kings. With the series knotted at two apiece, the teams will head back to Sacramento tonight, where the Kings won the first two games of the series. We’ll preview tonight’s game before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-half play in this one.
This series has had no shortage of storylines since it began, and the newest one heading into tonight is the status of De’Aaron Fox. The Kings star broke his left index finger in game four, and although he has made it clear that he will be playing tonight, the question remains of if he will look like himself. Fox has scored 24 or more points in every game this series, but even with finger immobilization, the ability to shoot at a high level will likely be hindered.
Sacramento desperately needs Fox’s scoring, as even though they were one of the best offensive teams in the league during the regular season, the teams shooting numbers are down in the series. This injury could also amplify the offensive struggles of Domantis Sabonis, who has scored under his season average in three of the four games this series and looked uncomfortable on that end of the floor in game four.
Credit is deserved for the Warriors' defense for their gameplan against Sabonis and their ability to hold a Kings team that was 9th in three-point percentage during the regular season to the third worst percentage amongst playoff teams at 30.3%. That stat brings us back to the Fox injury and players needing to step up. One of those players is Kevin Huerter, who was benched in game four and has shot 3 for 21 from deep.
After all of that, the positive for Sacramento is they are back in their home arena. Golden State was 11-30 on the road during the regular season and is already 0-2 in the postseason. It was still hard to believe Golden State would struggle on the road in this series with all the veteran experience, yet they had a (-5.8) NET rating in the first two games of the series.
The Warriors are currently listed as (-.5) point favorites in the first half tonight, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Both teams have gone into halftime with a lead twice, and it's worth noting the Warriors did go into halftime with a lead in game one, so they can do it on the road. In terms of 1H NET rating for the series, the Warriors hold an advantage as their NET rating of 3.8 is the fifth best amongst playoff teams.
I think, at least for the first half tonight, they will struggle to find cohesiveness on offense with the Fox injury. Sacramento’s offensive rating this postseason goes from 110.9 with Fox on the floor to 102.4 without him, so even if he is on the floor but not himself, I think we’ll see a regression from the offense.
Even with Fox healthy, the Kings were 11th amongst playoff teams in field goal percentage in the 1H and 12th in three-point percentage. Golden State ranks 8th and 6th in those categories, respectively. I have not seen enough from guys like Domantis Sabonis to trust the Kings' offense with an injured Fox, but I do trust the veteran playoff experience Golden State has to go into halftime with a lead tonight.
Golden State Warriors 1H (-.5)