Sacramento Kings game previews between November 21 and November 27, including games against: Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Kings incredibly difficult homestand started off rough, with Sacramento going 1-2 last week. The box score in the loss to the Spurs makes it look competitive, but the overall performance in that game was sloppy. They were down big to the Clippers, and brought it back but ultimately lost. They beat the Raptors, but not without a controversial call to overturn the last-second three that would have sent the game to overtime. The Kings currently sit at 5-9, but have been a few key moments from having a much different record. This is all to be expected as Sacramento continues to figure out its identity.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Home
Things don’t get any easier for the Kings as Russell Westbrook and the Thunder roll into Sacramento. In a post-Durant Oklahoma City, Westbrook is playing like a madman unleashed. He is second in scoring behind only DeMar DeRozan (thanks to his historic start) and he is nearly averaging a triple double with 31.7 points per game, 10.1 assists, and 9.6 rebounds. Obviously, Westbrook has the ability to take over a game single-handedly, and that is always going to be the biggest threat when playing against the Thunder. What might really stand to give the Kings some trouble is OKC’s ability to score on the fastbreak; they’re one of the highest scoring teams and the most efficient on the fast break.
On the other end, the Kings are one of the worst at defending the fast break as they are towards the bottom of the league in opponent fast break points per game. If the Thunder control the pace and find themselves with plenty of fastbreak opportunities, things could get rough fast. The Thunder aren’t without their faults, though, as they’ve gone 2-5 in their last seven games. Part of that record appears to be due to a habit of turning the ball over, which is something that the Kings will need to exploit.
Friday, 25 November 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Home
The final game of this homestand of doom does not bring any mercy as the Kings take on the Houston Rockets. James Harden has been having himself quite a season, averaging a double-double with 28.7 points per game and 12.5 assists per game. Harden’s assists per game are the best in the league, and as a team, Houston is top five in the league. Their ball movement and willingness to share the rock contributes to scoring as they are also one of the highest scoring teams in the league. Part of that also comes from having some solid support around Harden. What should be interesting to watch is Sacramento native Ryan Anderson at the four spot, and who the Kings will put out to matchup with him and his ability to stretch the floor. It appears that Joerger is moving away from trying to play big, and is willing to adjust and play small ball, so seeing what lineup he puts out there against Houston will be important.
Another thing to watch as well is Cousins matching up against Clint Capela, the young big starting in place of Dwight Howard. Capela has had some impressive games as a full time starter, but matching up against the caliber of player like Boogie is no easy feat. Don’t be surprised if he struggles a bit here and DeMarcus Cousins has a big game against him.
Sunday, 27 November 2016 at 06:00 PM ET Away
At the end of the miserable five-game stretch, the Kings may find some reprieve against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets may still be without point guard Jeremy Lin, who has been out with a strained hamstring for a few weeks now. They sorely miss his presence facilitating the offense, and are struggling to settle on somebody who can take the reins while he is still on the mend. Fill-in players include the two rookies (Isaiah Whitehead and Yogi Ferrell), somebody who never played point before (Sean Kilpatrick) and a journeyman (Randy Foye). The lack of stability in the backcourt manifests itself in the form of turnovers as well, as the Nets backcourt is amongst the highest in turnovers per game. While the Kings traditionally have the advantage with their frontcourt personnel, they actually may have the edge in the backcourt against the Nets given the injury to Lin and the rotating cast of replacements. Look for Collison to attack and have a good scoring game.
Something Brooklyn does well is score down low, which makes sense when their best player and leading scorer is Brook Lopez. Lopez and Cousins matching up in the paint will be fun to watch, and really is the best individual matchup in the game. The matchup that stands to benefit the Kings the most, however, will likely be Rudy Gay against Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson is young and has shown potential, but Gay will likely exploit his defensive shortcomings and help the Kings come away with a win.