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Game Thread #1 - @ Minnesota

Update [2006-11-1 18:49:33 by TZ]: According to some folks on the radio - broadcaster Jim Kozimor and one of the Maloof brothers - Mike Bibby might play tonight. A message board is discussing it. I am not a doctor, and I haven't seen a thing anywhere perhaps this message board and one email from a corroborating radio listener. So, yeah. Grain of salt.

Update #2 [2006-11-1 19:50:37 by TZ]: Mike Bibby is starting, according to Gary Gerould on the radio. Wow.

Oh glorious day, another NBA season is here.

Last night, we got an intriguing double-header to start things in exciting fashion. The Bulls were literally insane on defense and the Lakers played a flawless second-half without Kobe. I knew the Lakers were going to be a threat this season, and I think everyone else realizes now, too.

Today, everyone else plays. Golden State tries to work Jason Richardson back in while trying to knock off the Lakers, and the Clippers begin their quest to stay above sea level for a second straight season against last place Phoenix. (Sounds nice, huh?)

Our Kings, of course, are in Minnesota. Last season, Bonzi Wells saved the day once and the Wolves took the other two contests. All the games amounted to defensive struggles - the teams combined to shoot 44 percent in the three games. In the one match during the Artest era, the Wolves shot 48 percent as Kevin Garnett went nuts, scoring 37 points in 38 minutes.

Scoring will likely again be the issue for the Kings. They had trouble getting shots to fall against Minnesota last season, and they had Mike Bibby for all of those games. Minnesota finished 11th in the league in defense, giving up 104.7 points per 100 possessions. (League average was 106.1.)

On the other side of the court, Minnesota's offense scares no one - at least until Randy Foye can prove himself at this level and until Mike James can prove last year wasn't a statistical fluke. The Kings have to imagine they can clamp down on Wolves not named Garnett, with Ricky Davis posing the biggest threat of tossing up a big line.

My guess is that the Kings will try to push the tempo, partly to avoid having to test the Bibby-less halfcourt offense against Minnesota's solid defense, and partly to cover up Ronnie Price's inexperience in running an offense. The Kings, despite being one of the least athletic teams in the league, were still one of the fastest last season (9th in pace for the season). Replacing Wells with Kevin Martin in the starting lineup won't hurt that, but it will take some time to see how Eric Musselman's pressure defense and free-ish offense will affect the team's pace.

All that said, who knows what the f*ck to expect? It's the first game!

It is a 5p start on News10 for the locals. And as always, remember that these threads are the place for all of your pre-, during, and post-game comments.

Let's go Kings!