One night after clinching a playoff spot, the Golden State Warriors will pursue their best possible Western Conference seeding when they resurface in the California capital to face the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.
The Warriors (49-29) walked off their home court with the third-best record in the West after a come-from-behind, 111-107 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
Golden State also walked off a bit fatigued, with Klay Thompson having been pressed into 39 minutes of action and Jordan Poole 38.
Thompson hasn’t played back-to-backs since returning from a 2 1/2-year absence earlier this season, so he’s likely to join injured Stephen Curry, resting Andre Iguodala and possibly even veterans Draymond Green and Otto Porter Jr. on the sideline when the Warriors go for a season-series sweep in Sacramento.
The Warriors enter the final four games of the season one game up on the Dallas Mavericks (48-30) and three ahead of the Jazz (46-32) and Denver Nuggets (46-32).
Coming off a 31-point effort, five fewer than Thompson’s 36, Poole noted afterward that he and his teammates are trying to concentrate on basketball, not the standings, these days.
“We don’t talk about it,” he said of the jostling for playoff positioning. “A game like (Saturday’s) has a lot of positive things. We try to take that momentum into the next game. All games are important at this point.”
The Warriors have won the first three games of the season series over the Kings by 12, 15 and 12 points, continuing an odd pattern in recent matchups between the Northern California rivals.
A season-series sweep would be the sixth in the past nine years, the fifth by Golden State. It could match a 4-0 Warriors sweep in 2015 and 3-0 Kings sweep in 2020 in which all games were decided by 12 or more points.
The Kings (29-49) enter the matchup on the better roll of the two, having won two straight and four of five as they attempt to stave off playoff elimination in the West. They are coming off 121-118 and 122-117 wins in a three-day, two-game sequence in Houston when one loss would have ended their longshot hopes of qualifying for the play-in tournament.
Davion Mitchell has led the way in the past five games, averaging 20.6 points and 8.6 assists. The ninth overall pick in the 2021 draft has raised his season scoring average to 11.2, eighth best among rookies.
Interim Sacramento coach Alvin Gentry, a former Warriors assistant, assures that the Auburn/Baylor product is anything but a one-year wonder.
“Everybody gets up here and says, ‘He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever coached,’ or whatever,” Gentry said. “Well, he IS the hardest worker I’ve ever coached. And you gotta almost protect him from himself because he’ll be there every day before practice, every day after practice, and come back that night.”
Two former members of Golden State championship teams have complemented Mitchell well in their recent upswing. Harrison Barnes averaged 17.0 points on 50-percent shooting during Sacramento’s just completed five-game trip, while Damian Jones chipped in with 16.6 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds.
–Field Level Media