Why Warriors-Kings NBA playoff series badly needs to happen


Warriors vs. Kings in the NBA playoffs? Yes, please. By all possible means. The teams need it, the regions feel it and it’s a practically perfect first-round matchup.

And after Golden State’s shockingly slapdash 119-97 victory over an emaciated version of the Kings on Friday night in Sacramento, we’re one step away from the reality.

The Kings are locked into the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, and the Warriors – assuming the Clippers beat two teams with zero incentive – are one win away from clinching the No. 6 seed that would put the teams on a collision course next weekend. The Warriors are at No. 5, for now, but would drop back to sixth after the expected Clippers win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

Mercifully, a Warriors-Kings playoff series would look nothing like the city league exhibition hoops on display most of the evening at Golden 1 Center. With three Sacramento starters sitting out with injuries that will be ignored in the postseason, the Warriors worked overtime to keep the Kings in the game until the fourth quarter.

Once legitimate stakes are in place, the factors that would make this series ripe for engagement and entertainment and go beyond the obvious geography.

"That would be amazing," Klay Thompson told reporters Friday night when asked about the idea of a Warriors-Kings playoff series. "I don't know when that's ever happened. Has it happened? Yeah, that would be special for Northern California. Kings got great fans. We got great fans. Mike B's got them boys playing hard. That would be really cool just for Northern California, which is a basketball hotbed at the moment. And it would be nice for the travel. That would be very nice. That would be really nice."

There has been only one NBA champion in Northern California, and it is the Warriors, who have won five, including four in the last eight years, since moving from Philadelphia 61 years ago.

The Kings? They have been no closer than the 2002 Western Conference Finals, which ended in the unspeakable heartbreak of a Game 7 loss to the Lakers at musty old Arco Arena.

The Kings are new to the playoffs, and the Warriors consider the postseason their turf.

The Warriors have earned a giant slab of global prestige. The Kings would like to take a bite out of that.

There is the familiar, Mike Brown becoming head coach in Sacramento after six seasons as an assistant under Steve Kerr with the Warriors. Brown smuggled several Warriors employees to Sacramento, including assistant coaches Leandro Barbosa and Luke Loucks.

This would be a revenge series for Harrison Barnes, a starter on Golden State’s 2015 championship team but one year later was discarded like a damp paper towel when the Warriors chased and caught Kevin Durant.

The only person who might want it more than Barnes is Vivek Ranadive, who went from a minority stake in the Warriors to royal governor of the Kings.

And let’s face it, the players are the core of the Warriors – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – have spent most of their illustrious careers looking down upon the lowly Kangz. There was no hatred from the Bay Area because, well, the team up I-80 north was irrelevant.

No more.

So, the competition would be appropriately fierce.

The Sacramento starters sidelined on Friday – All-Star De’Aaron Fox, All-Star caliber Domantas Sabonis and sharpshooter Kevin Huerter – will swap the street clothes for jerseys next week. And they’ll open the playoffs at home.

RELATED: Where Warriors stand in playoff picture after beating Kings

Which means Golden State would be playing the first two games on the road. If the Kings were not enough of a challenge, and they are, the Warriors also would have to wrestle with those pesky demons that only come out when they leave Chase Center.

Warriors-Kings would activate both fan bases more than either would be against any other team.

Make it happen. Generate a rivalry, if only in the embryo phase.

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