STARTING LINEUP & INJURIES
The Kings will start Tyreke Evans, Luther Head, Donte Greene, Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert. Evans missed Tuesday's practice due to illness, but is expected to play. Francisco Garcia has missed two games with illness, but is expected to be back. DeMarcus Cousins was kicked out of practice Tuesday, and I would not be surprised if he received a DNP-CD. (Get limber, Darnell Jackson.)
The Pacers roll with Darren Collison and Brandon Rush in the backcourt, Danny Granger at small forward, and Josh McRoberts and Roy Hibbert up front. Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford and James Posey are the key contributors off the bench, with Tyler Hansbrough and Solomon Jones up front.
Please check out HighTops' excellent scouting report. My less-excellent scouting report follows.
The Pacers shockingly have the league's third-best defense to date. Indiana finished 14th last season, and 19th a year prior. Hibbert and Granger have been the defensive stars, with Posey filling in admirably and Collison better than his predecessors. The team's defensive rebounding hasn't fallen off with Troy Murphy going to New Jersey, thanks to extra minutes for Big Roy and able work from McBob.
The offense isn't quite there. The loss of Murphy hasn't really hurt. The Pacers still take an unreal number of threes -- more than 50 percent more than their opponents -- and are hitting at a better clip than a year ago. The only area of the offensive game Indiana is worse at this season is drawing fouls, where Granger's free throw frequency has slipped. He and Hibbert are the only real threats to score a bunch at the line. Against most teams, anyway.
The Kings' three-point defense has improved immeasurably in the last week-plus, and Sacramento will need every bit of it tonight. The Pacers will gun and gun and gun some more.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Hibbert vs. Dalembert. For reasons not exclusively tied to basketball, Dalembert figures to get plenty of time to try to figure out Hibbert. Good luck. Hibbert had 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in Sunday's win over Pau Gasol and the Lakers. He's not terribly quick or athletic, but I can still see him giving the Kings fits with his superior passing skills and decent range. Should be an interesting match-up on that end.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Do I even need to say it?
It's posted on Facebook! Post your guess there. If you missed Day 1, worry not, because almost everyone was wrong.
7 PM PT start on Comcast SportsNet and KHTK 1140 AM. To my knowledge, Dish and Comcast have still not resolved the issue, which sucks. Cheap tickets are available. Game threads at 7 and 8:30. Let's go Kings.