March 7, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center Chuck Hayes (42) warms up before the game against the New Orleans Hornets at Power Balance Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
The Sacramento Kings have prevailed in the first two games of their nine-game homestand, and on Friday perhaps succeeded in the team's greatest challenge, beating up the Dallas Mavericks. Next up: the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday at 6 p.m. Pacific (Comcast SportsNet California).
Atlanta has remained quite good despite the crushing injury to Al Horford. The Hawks are 23-17, right in the middle of that 5-6-7 race in the East playoff bracket. Atlanta is 3-2 in March so far, but every game has been tight. This month, the Hawks have close wins over the Bucks, Thunder and Pacers and narrow losses to the Heat and Pistons. (Detroit looks rather good right now, and will visit the Kings on Wednesday.)
The Hawks are actually faring far, far better on defense than offense this season. Atlanta currently ranks No. 4 in defense and No. 23 in offense; per Basketball-Reference.com, the club is top 10 in each of the defensive four factors, including No. 9 in shooting defense and No. 6 in defensive rebounding. DeMarcus Cousins' fitness with respect to his bout with food poisoning could loom large on Sacramento's offensive glass abilities; Cousins was limited to just four total boards in Friday's win.
We still never have any clue whether the Kings' potent offense will show up or not, but Atlanta's mediocre offense should at least give Sacramento an opportunity to get out in transition on rebounds and turnovers. That's usually a good input for the Kings' offense. It's halfcourt that kills.
The game's at 6, and we'll have game threads at 6 and 7:30. Let's go Kings!