Programming note: Coverage of Warriors-Kings starts Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
SACRAMENTO – In the hours preceding his debut as an NBA head coach, Steve Kerr insisted that he feels no more anxiety than he did in a no-stakes game 22 days ago.
"I feel just like I did at Staples before the first preseason game, which is a good sign,'' he said Wednesday, after Warriors morning shootaround at Sleep Train Arena. "There are some butterflies. I'm excited. That's the way it should feel. When you're in a competition if you don't have some nerves going, there's something wrong.
"I hope all our guys feel that way.''
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They likely do as the Warriors face the Kings in the season opener for both teams. Though the teams hardly share status – the Warriors are a proven playoff squad, while the Kings continue to flounder – the games tend to be emotional because of the familiarity and the geographic proximity.
Though it's a new season and the Kings are out to shed the years of sub-mediocrity, expect nothing different on Wednesday.
"It becomes a game where, really, who's going to outwork whom? Who's going to make those extra plays because you know each other so well,'' said Warriors forward Draymond Green who will be starting Wednesday in place of an injured David Lee.
"They're a tough team with a fresh start," Green said. "So they're going to come into this season looking to get off to a better start and we know that. It's never easy going to play there, so we've got to go in there with the right mindset.''
The Kings only significant change is at point guard, where they allowed their own free agent, Isaiah Thomas, to walk (to the Suns) and replaced him with free agent Darren Collison, formerly of the Clippers.
Collison is not the offensive sparkplug Thomas was, but he is longer and just as fast and a much better defender. Behind Collison is another acquisition, Ramon Sessions, who ranks among the league's best backup point guards.
Yet the Kings rely mostly on center DeMarcus Cousins and small forward Rudy Gay to power the offense.
"Defending DeMarcus in the post is going to be a huge key – and that's not just (Andrew) Bogut's job,'' Green said. "He's too good of a player to expect one guy to shut him down.''
Though Cousins and Gay are exceedingly talented, both can be inconsistent. Cousins can be downright erratic.
"Sacramento's talented; they're good,'' Kerr said. "Cousins is an emerging force. Rudy Gay is a big-time player. And they have fast guards. If you turn it over against them, they're going be laying it up with Sessions and Collison.''
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Bogut vs. Cousins. There always is an undercurrent of tension between these two. Whichever big man fouls fewest best serves his team.
Stephen Curry vs. Darren Collison. Curry is the All-Star, while Collison is the Kings major offseason acquisition and is eager to prove his worth. He definitely improves their defense at the point.
Harrison Barnes vs. Gay. Barnes as a rookie was torched by Gay; it's something he won't forget. Among HB's goals on opening night is to avoid being posterized by a veteran still able to summon the spectacular.
KEYS TO VICTORY: 1) Silence the crowd. Kings fans can be notoriously boisterous, and it can incite the team. 2) Limit turnovers. The Kings will have a tough time winning without Warriors giveaways would only serve to trigger transition led by quick Sacramento guards. 3) Control Boogie. Cousins notoriously emotional and inconsistent but is capable of dominating.
INJURY LIST: Warriors: SF Brandon Rush (sacral stress reaction), PF David Lee (strained left hamstring) and PG Shaun Livingston (recovering from right big toe surgery) are not expected to play.
Kings: None reported.
SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors last season swept the Kings (4-0) for the first time since 1991-92 (5-0).