STARTING LINEUPS & INJURIES
The Kings' starting lineup would appear to remain Tyreke Evans-Beno Udrih-Omri Casspi-Carl Landry-Samuel Dalembert. Everyone is healthy. (Knock on wood.)
On Friday in L.A., Detroit went with Ben Wallace and Austin Daye up front, Tayshaun Prince at small forward, and Rodney Stuckey and Rip Hamilton in the backcourt. Off the bench, the Pistons play Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell and Greg Monroe up front, and Will Bynum, Ben Gordon and Tracy McGrady on the wing and in the backcourt. Jonas Jerebko is, unfortunately, done 'til the spring. Chris Wilcox is also out.
Be sure to see HighTops' full scouting report.
As HT noted, Detroit (this season, at least) can shoot the three. Only four Pistons are taking at least two threes a game; three of the four (Villanueva, Gordon and Daye) are shooting better than 40% from deep, and the fourth (Hamilton) is hitting 35%. That's what we call "smart distribution." Stuckey can shoot threes, but not nearly as effectively as the others. Hence, he lets them shoot the threes. It's smart.
Of course, as HT also wrote, the Pistons have no one but Prince to score inside, so they rely on the long-range shooting to survive. The Suns at least have Steve Nash, who can get anyone an open shot at the rim, and Hakim Warrick, a dunking machine. The Pistons' offense lacks that element, and suffers for it.
What's also interesting is that Detroit defends the three-point line well. Teams shoot only 30% from long-range against the Pistons. If that's reality and not sample size related noise, that does not bode well for your Sacramento Kings, who are just 26th in three-point shooting this season. Five Kings are taking right around two or more threes a game. Three (Evans, Udrih and Luther Head) are shooting 30% or worse. (Much worse, in the cases of Udrih and Head.) The other two (Casspi, Francisco Garcia) are shooting better than 40%. How quickly Udrih's long-range stoke comes back to him could be a huge factor in the Kings' offense's future. We've seen what a boon Omri's sharpness has been for the Tyreke-led dribble-drive sets.
The Kings should be able to feast on the offensive glass, and need to.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Landry vs. Daye. Daye isn't fit to defend power forwards down low, which means that Landry ought to be able to exploit the young Piston's uncertainty and fraility in the paint. We say it before almost every game, but it deserves to be a siren song: the Kings finally have post options. USE THEM. Landry has a cornucopia of post skills, and he can use them to get his points efficiently. That also puts him in position to hit the offensive glass hard. On the other end, I'm not sure whether Daye is the type to use screens to get free from long-range (long a Hamilton stable), but popping out quickly and not worrying about Daye driving to the rim would be a good move. I don't see Daye beating anyone with a series of pump-fake 18-footers.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Casspi. Prince is one of the better defenders O.C. will have faced this season, so it's important for Casspi to be confident in his own game and let Beno and Tyreke do the playmaking. Omri did have a couple nice fakes-and-drives against Phoenix, but Prince is smart and his length closes gaps quickly. So caution -- something Casspi doesn't exude -- is important here.
Four more games at home.
Can the Kings win more than one?
Good Lord, let's hope so.
3 PM Pacific start. I repeat, 3 PM Pacific start. I re-repeat, 3 PM Pacific start. I assume this is a "bring the family!" drive; if so, I can encourage you to bring the family. I personally guarantee no vampires will be in attendance, and there is no risk your carriage will turn into a pumpkin on the ride home. Game threads at 3 and 4:30. Comcast SportsNet and KHTK 1140 AM have the game. Go Kings.