Sacramento Kings Game Previews: October 31 - November 6

Sacramento Kings game previews between October 31 and November 6, including games against: Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors.

Sacramento Kings game previews between October 31 and November 6, including games against: Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors.

The Kings have kicked off the first week of the season with a 2-1 start, and it looks like things may actually be different in this new era of Sacramento Kings basketball. They’re playing solid defense, they were competitive in a loss to the Spurs and followed it up with their first win at the Golden 1 Center by overcoming an 18-point deficit against the Timberwolves. Now, after getting to play a pair of games in their new home, the Kings are spending a week on the road.

Atlanta Hawks

Monday, 31 October 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away

Sacramento kicks off the week against the Atlanta Hawks, a team looking to return to the playoffs. In the offseason, Atlanta parted ways with Jeff Teague in a three-team trade that sent him to Indiana, leaving the starting point role to Dennis Schroeder. The Hawks clearly have faith in the 23-year-old to lead the offense as they agreed to a 4-year deal worth $70 million just days before their season opener. As the starter, Schroeder can’t rely on Jeff Teague coming back in to lead the Hawks; the onus falls on him to facilitate that offense. He is coming off a solid performance against the 76ers with 11 points and 11 assists but if the Kings defense can capitalize on any mistakes the young guard makes, they can do some damage.

Overshadowed by some guy deciding to play for Golden State, Dwight Howard returned to his hometown this offseason to play for the Hawks. Howard impressed in his debut with Atlanta against the Wizards, posting a double-double with 11 points and 19 rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins and whoever Joerger decides to slide in as the other big (Koufos has been in the starting role the first three games) will have their hands full matching up against Howard and All-Star Paul Millsap. Millsap looked to pick up where he left off last season, producing a game-high 28 points in the convincing win in their opener. Cousins looks to be in midseason form already, but will he be able to generate points in the paint with these two anchoring the middle?

Miami Heat

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away

The Kings continue their week with a trip to South Beach to face yet another team that has made some serious changes this offseason. The Miami Heat lost franchise guard Dwyane Wade to Chicago in free agency, and Chris Bosh’s playing career remains in question due to blood clots. This leaves the franchise in the shot-blocking hands of center Hassan Whiteside, selected by the Kings in the 2nd round of the same draft where they picked Cousins with the 5th overall. Once a fringe NBA player, spending years toiling in the D-League and Europe, Whiteside has defined himself as a defensive stud (he was named All-Defensive Second Team last year) and rising star in Miami. Assuming he is cleared of his injury sustained on Sunday against the Spurs, the matchup of Cousins and Whiteside will be the one to watch-- two picks of the same draft to the same team with vastly different paths to the spotlight.

The Kings and Heat were also reportedly engaged in serious talks to send Rudy Gay and Darren Collison to Miami in exchange for Goran Dragic. Dragic has looked good through the Heat’s first three games, averaging 18.3 points and 6.7 assists. Against the Kings though, Ty Lawson may be able to exploit Dragic defensively as he tends to struggle against quicker guards and Lawson has shown that he still retains some of that speed that once made him elite. This means they could see more of Tyler Johnson, a beneficiary of the wild offseason deals with an insane 4-year, $50 million dollar contract, to compensate for Dragic’s defense.

Orlando Magic

Thursday, 3 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away

The Kings will stay in Florida to take on the Orlando Magic. The trend of facing strong frontcourts continues as Nikola Vucevic and now Serge Ibaka man the paint for the Magic. The matchups will be interesting the Kings have been going with Kosta Koufos as the frontcourt partner for Boogie, but have plenty of options. Ibaka doesn’t shy away from the perimeter, so don’t be surprised to see Willie Cauley-Stein in at the 4 spot to offer his mobility and ability to switch out to defend the perimeter.

The Magic also have a young backcourt pairing of Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier that are more than capable of putting points on the board; Fournier led the team with 20 points in their opener. Arron Afflalo may have his hands full matching up defensively with Fournier, so this is a key matchup to watch as well. What is also worth noting is that in the Magic rely very heavily on their starters for production, so the Kings depth may help keep their starters fresh while the Magic start getting worn down from the long minutes. Watch for the Kings to dominate down low as the Magic have given up 55.3 points in the paint per game; good for third-worst in the league.

Milwaukee Bucks

Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away

The week closes out with a trip to the Midwest to take on Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokoumpo impressed in the Bucks’ season opener against Charlotte with 31 points, nine rebounds, and five assists but that really was the only bright spot. They put up a woeful 18.8% shooting on 16 shots from behind the arc. If the Kings can lock down the paint and force the ball to the perimeter, the Bucks may shoot themselves into a hole. That being said, containing the “Greek Freak” is much easier said than done as he followed up the opener with two more dominant performances and it will be interesting to see the defensive game plan to cover Antetokoumpo. But, this is a new year, with a new coach and a new gritty defense, so watch to see what Joerger comes up with as a response to Giannis’s playmaking ability.

On the offensive end, Boogie and the Kings can have a big game if they take advantage of low post play. The Bucks are towards the bottom of the barrel thus far in opponent points in the paint as well, allowing 49 points through three games. If they can take advantage of poor defense down low, they should be able to come away with a solid win.

Toronto Raptors

Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 06:00 PM ET Away

The Kings conclude their road trip by going north of the border to take on another Eastern Conference team looking to make a deep playoff run in the Toronto Raptors. Their trio of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas have played well in their first two games with DeRozan carrying the scoring load and Valanciunas averaging a double-double. But, as a team, the Raptors haven’t looked great from deep putting up 20.8% on 17 attempts over their two games. The Kings face a similar situation as with the Bucks; a team that doesn’t necessarily play well when they are forced to shoot the three. Sacramento has also proven that it can take away the paint as they are in the top 4 for points allowed in the paint, so protecting the rim will be a big key to victory in the North.

Just as the Kings are strong defensively down low, the Raptors will be able to match them. Toronto is the league leader in points allowed in the paint with just 34 points per game allowed, so the Kings will need their shooters to spread the floor and earn some room to operate in the paint. Afflalo leads the team in three-point percentage with 44.4% and Matt Barnes isn’t far behind with 42.9%, so if the veterans can provide the jumpers then DeMarcus Cousins can do his thing down low.

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