Programming note: Kings-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply) and streaming online right here
OAKLAND – Much has changed in the eight weeks since the Warriors toppled the Kings in Sacramento on opening night, but one thing remains constant: The Kings continue to search for their soul.
The Warriors (22-3), who have won 17 of 18, expect a physical and psychological lift from the return of power forward David Lee, who has missed the last 21 games. Expect the Oracle Arena crowd to give Lee a warm welcome.
Sacramento (12-15) is one week removed from firing head coach Michael Malone in his second season and replacing him with interim coach Tyrone Corbin. The Kings lost their first two games under Corbin before beating the Lakers on Sunday.
Warriors by 11.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Festus Ezeli vs. DeMarcus Cousins -- Ezeli, essentially a second-year big man, may not see a more skilled offensive center all season. Cousins is a load for a strong veteran defender such as Andrew Bogut. Festus has two goals: Keeping Boogie off his sweet spot down low and staying out of foul trouble.
Harrison Barnes vs. Rudy Gay -- Barnes and Gay are very familiar with each other; Gay provided one of rookie HB's NBA baptisms. Barnes, however, has been playing well in his own right and will be a challenge for Gay. These are two athletically gifted players, and Barnes will need to match Gay's intensity.
Stephen Curry vs. Darren Collison -- Collison is the best defensive point guard the Kings have had in more than decade. That said, he's not playing great defense – certainly not at a level that would threaten Curry's offense. Collison's job will be to contain Curry. He'll need some luck with his labor.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Pack the paint -- The Kings don't rely on 3-pointers, partly because they're not very good at making them. The Warriors would be wise to force them into trying.
2) Gobble the glass -- No question that the Warriors are the superior rebounding team. They still have to go out and prove that point over 48 minutes.
3) Push the pace -- The Warriors are fairly consistent on the break, leading the league in fast-break points. The Kings would like to play fast but are having trouble figuring out how.
"I'm really excited about that, just excited to get back on the court. It's been way too long and it's getting boring just watching." -- David Lee on Sunday
Warriors 9-1, Kings 3-7.
Warriors: F David Lee (strained left hamstring) is listed as probable. C Andrew Bogut (chondromalacia and bone edema, right knee) is listed as out.
Kings: F Omri Casspi (bone contusion, left knee) is listed as probable. G Ramon Sessions (low back strain) is listed as questionable.
The Warriors have won five straight over Sacramento, beginning with a sweep of four games last season and continuing on opening night this season. The 20 games prior to that were split evenly, with each team winning 10.