The Golden State Warriors will face the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night in Game 3 of this Western Conference First round matchup, with the Dubs trailing 0-2, and the big news is Draymond Green’s suspension after he stepped on Domantas Sabonis in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
Odds on the Warriors went up big time after news of Draymond’s unavailability came out, and while I understand the reasoning, I don’t think his absence will have that much of an impact.
Draymond used to be indispensable for these Warriors and when he didn’t play, it was always a massive problem for them. While his importance is still undeniable, the same can be said about his decline. He’s still a big piece of what they do, but there have been times lately where his presence on the court was a detriment to the team – just remember him getting subbed out in the 4th quarter of last year’s Finals. That would have been unthinkable a few years ago. I think the likes of Wiggins and Kuminga can do a reasonable job replacing Draymond here.
Golden State has had a bad season for the standards of a defending champion, having to fight until the last game of the regular season for a 6th seed, and there are talks about the dinasty being over. Indeed, losing the first two games against the third seeded Kings seems to confirm these speculations.
But, for all of their woes and difficulties this season, there has been one constant for the Golden State Warriors: their play at home. The Warriors have resembled their old selves and played championship level basketball at Chase Center, amassing a 33-8 record, the third best in the entire league. It is true that Sacramento also has the best road record in the Western Conference, so that must be respected.
It’s definitely not good for the Warriors to be down 0-2 after two games, but I think they can (and will) also take encouragement from those losses. The Warriors played two close games in Sacramento and could have (should have?) probably won one of them, and that was despite them performing quite poorly. There were turnovers, there was foul trouble, the three point shooting was below standards, the level of play wasn’t always there. To top that off, Golden State was also done very harshly by the whistle. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that the Kings got very favorable calls, and I’m being kind here. In fact, this is the consensus.
If the Warriors still managed to challenge for a win in both games on the road under these circumstances, I feel quite confident about their chances at home, where their performances this season have been magnificent and the complete opposite to their struggles away from home.
Expect the Dubs to come out firing, they had a 33-8 home record during the regular season for a reason, they have the experience to approach these big games and they have always responded to adversity with big performances. This time they also have a chip on their shoulder, as they feel wronged by both the referees and the NBA in this series, not to mention the lack of confidence people have in them.
I can also see the Warriors getting much more favorable calls this time around, at home, after what happened in the first two games, plus the Draymond suspension. The media has been quite vocal about how the Kings were favored so far. It’s reasonable to suspect that the refs will be a bit more friendly with the Dubs.
I expect a big time game from Steph and Klay. Take Golden State to win this. Prediction: Golden State Warriors – Sacramento Kings 128 – 116.