Sacramento Kings game previews between November 28 and December 4, including games against: Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards.
The Kings are coming off a week of solid performances and Sunday night marked the start of a six game roadtrip with a victory over the Nets. This upcoming week gives the Kings the opportunity to reach the .500 mark on the season and potentially get over it and back to a winning record. This next stretch is certainly better than their difficult homestand they just completed, but it certainly won’t be a cakewalk.
Monday, 28 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings continue their road trip this week as they travel to Washington to take on fellow Kentucky teammate John Wall and the Wizards. The Wizards have had a rough to start to the season as they sit at a 5-10 record that not many people expected, particularly in the weaker Eastern Conference. There's a multitude of reasons for their struggles, but one of the glaring weaknesses is their bench play. The Wizards’ bench has been bad, drawing ire from Marcin Gortat who openly admitted the team’s bench is one of the worst in the league. The Kings, in all their ups and downs, have had some good hustle and production from their role players. If Sacramento can take advantage of Washington’s poor bench play, things can bode pretty well for them. While the bench has been rough, the starters have been playing fairly well and will certainly challenge the Kings. The backcourt pairing of Wall and Bradley Beal -for all their chemistry issues and vocal disdain for one another- are scoring fairly well. Wall is leading the team with 23.5 points per game and Beal isn’t far behind at 20.1 points. While Wall is the star in Washington and always warrants attention from the defense, the Kings shouldn’t sleep on Beal. He’s strung together a solid patch of games, averaging 26.6 points over the last 5 games including 42, 34 and 25-point performances. If he goes on a tear, he could stand to give Sacramento some trouble. It’ll likely be up to Arron Afflalo to matchup with Beal and try to contain him.
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
Slowly but surely, there is hope forming in Philadelphia for the future of Sixers basketball. The picks accumulated through “the process” over the past few years as Philadelphia returned to the draft lottery year after year are finally taking the court, and there is definite potential in some of these young players. Amongst them is Joel Embiid, who long awaited the opportunity to finally play after missing two seasons due to injury. Now in his first season, he leads the team with 17.8 points per game. Embiid is certainly a talented young big man, and a bright spot in this game will be the Cousins-Embiid matchup. While the 76ers are getter better, and there is promise for the future they still aren’t very good right now; their 4-13 record is good for worst in the Eastern Conference. Despite the lowly record, Philadelphia surprisingly has one of the highest scoring benches in the league. As a result, the Kings bench will need to have a big game here as well to ensure that the margin doesn’t stay close enough to keep the Sixers in it when Embiid is on the floor. It will certainly be a vast difference going from the Wizards lowly bench unit to the 76ers, but the Kings’ own formidable squad is likely up to the task.
Friday, 2 December 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
Games against the Celtics are always a little difficult to stomach for Kings fans because it means watching Isaiah Thomas, former Kings point guard and “the one who got away” (or rather “the one who was traded away for practically nothing” but that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well). Thomas has been thriving in Boston and leads the team with 26.1 points per game, which is also good for top 10 in the league. As such, he is the player to watch in this Kings-Celtics matchup; Thomas is an All-Star caliber player who is always poised to have a big game. Joerger’s game plan will likely revolve around containing the diminutive guard and his scoring touch, so Darren Collison best be prepared to contain him if the Kings hope to win. Beyond Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have been playing well all around as they look to return to the playoffs. They are distributing the ball well, while taking care and not committing turnovers. One of the areas that Boston has also really shined is outside the arc, as they are one of the top 10 teams when it comes to three-point percentage. Defending the deep ball is one of Sacramento’s defensive deficiencies, so if the Celtics getting going from deep it may be a long game for the Kings.
New York Knicks
Sunday, 4 December 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The Kings end their week with a trip to Madison Square Garden to face off against the New York Knicks. The Knicks are fighting to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and are doing so with a new-look roster that includes former Bulls Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. They’ve settled into their roles with the Knicks, with Rose as the third highest scorer behind Melo and Kristaps Porzingis and Noah as the leading rebounder. As a whole, the Knicks are one of the best rebounding teams in the league, which an infusion of Noah and his hustle down low has certainly contributed to. The Kings bigs will have to battle hard to pull down boards, limiting second chance opportunities for the Knicks and generating their own on offense. Something the Knicks have been struggling with is scoring down in the paint, and the Kings have absolutely been excelling, which is bound to happen when you have a big man the caliber of Boogie Cousins. Just as they struggle to score down low, they also don’t defend the paint very well either. Being a middling team in the middle of the floor is something Sacramento is capable of taking advantage of; these factors combine to give Cousins the chance to have a huge game and lead the Kings to victory over the Knicks to cap off the week before continuing on the road.