The Western Conference boasts one of the most exciting matchups in the first round as the No. 3 Sacramento Kings play host to the No. 6 Golden State Warriors. Tipoff for Game 1 is scheduled for Saturday, April 15 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, the defending champs are listed as the favorites to move past their Northern California rival in the series.
Kings vs. Warriors predictions
Odds to win series: Warriors -290, Kings +225
Regular season record: Warriors (44-38), Kings (48-34)
Head-to-head record: Warriors 3-1
Golden State may have won the regular season series with Sacramento, but three of those four games had an average margin of victory of just five points between these two teams. That last head-to-head, which was a 22-point win by the Warriors, came in a game where the Kings rested three of their starters in De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Kevin Huerter.
Expect plenty of points to be scored between these two teams, but the true X-factor will be getting defensive stops. Sacramento had the league’s top scoring offense (120.7 PPG), but it contrasts with boasting just the 25th-ranked scoring defense (118.1 PPG allowed). Golden State didn’t fair much better on defense either, as the Warriors ranked 21st in opponent scoring (117.1 PPG allowed) but made up for it with the second-best scoring offense (118.9 PPG) while leading the league in three-pointers made (16.6 per game).
Pick: Warriors in 6 games
It’s a shame that the Kings’ incredible season rewarded them with a first-round matchup against the Warriors who despite all their regular season troubles, still boast a roster of veterans with ample playoff experience. Golden State, with its core three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, has not lost a first-round playoff series since 2014 when all three players have been available in every game.
Having Andrew Wiggins back in the fold, even in a small capacity, alongside Gary Payton II and Donte DiVincenzo, should give Golden State ample perimeter defenders to go up against a Kings offense led by Fox, Sabonis, Huerter, and Malik Monk.
The Warriors’ regular season road troubles will continue to be a question mark but in a seven-game series, they only need to win one at Golden 1 Center to tilt the homecourt advantage in their favor. With a team laden with postseason experience, the Warriors should move onto the second round, though the upstart Kings will surely give them a run for their money. Golden State wins the series 4-2.