NBA Play-In Tournament

Kings out for revenge against Warriors in play-in showdown

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SACRAMENTO – After months of speculation and calculations, the Kings are headed to the NBA postseason with one thing on their mind – revenge.

A year after being knocked out of the first-round of the NBA playoffs following a thrilling seven-game series with the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento gets a chance to exorcise some of the demons from that early exit when the two teams square off again in the 9-vs.-10 Western Conference Play-In game Tuesday.

“We did what we could to control the little bit of control that we had over our destiny,” Kings coach Mike Brown said after Sunday’s 121-82 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at Golden 1 Center. “We got it done. Now we know who we’re going to play. We just have to go out and execute, try to win.”

A few weeks ago, this matchup didn’t seem likely to happen. Sacramento was battling for the No. 8 seed while the Warriors were struggling just to stay afloat.

The Kings couldn’t sustain their momentum down the stretch, however, and saw their positioning in the Western Conference dip.

Both teams entered and left the final day of the regular season tied, but the Kings will host the play-in game at Golden 1 Center based on tiebreakers.

The atmosphere Tuesday promises to be as electric as any that the Kings have had this season.

“It’s a win-or-go-home game,” Domantas Sabonis said. “Of course it had to end this way. We’re excited. It’s going to be a great game. We all have to be locked in for 48 minutes.”

The Kings and Warriors split their four games in the regular season, with each team winning once at home and once on the road.

But Golden State seemingly has held the mental advantage after having coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Sacramento in the first round last year. The Warriors won four of the final five games, including the winner-take-all Game 7 at Golden 1 Center when two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry poured in a then-record 50 points.

It’s a game that still gives Kings’ fans nightmares and one that the Kings’ players are intent on avenging.

“It’s exciting. We get to get a little payback from last year,” Kings guard Davion Mitchell said. “We know they’re going to come in here with energy. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be physical. I think we’re ready for it.”

If the Kings beat the Warriors, they’ll advance to play the loser of the 7-8 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. A victory there would vault Sacramento into the full playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

Sacramento will be missing a few key pieces to its puzzle when Golden State comes to town. Malik Monk is out with a sprained MCL in his right knee while Kevin Huerter suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in March.

Golden State, on the other hand, is back at full strength after an up-and-down season that included two NBA suspensions for Draymond Green.

The Warriors will roll into Sacramento on Tuesday having won 12 of their last 14 games.

“We’re going to have to defend because they have a lot of firepower offensively,” Brown said. “The firepower offensively has won championships so they’re used to scoring with the best. They’re used to being in pressure situations.

“For us, we can’t have the mindset where we’re going to go out and score 120, 125 points and think we’re going to beat them that way. We have to bring a level of physicality to the game on the defensive end of the floor and then try to get easy opportunities in transition by getting stops. Hopefully our defense is to a point where our guys believe in it. Hopefully we can execute it for as close to 48 minutes as possible.”

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