Get the track shoes ready.
Toronto poses the first speedster test for the Kings defense. Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has famously said he wants his team to toss up 100 field goal attempts a night, and thus far, Toronto has played the fifth-fastest game in the league.
But that hasn't translated to offensive success, as the team toils in the bottom third of the league in offensive efficiency. The shots just aren't falling frequently enough, and the Raptors have no one to get offensive boards or free throw attempts.
The Kings offense, we all know, hasn't been tons better. Despite the terrific performance against Detroit, the Kings still have the statistically-worst offense in the league. (Actually, it's tied with Memphis' woeful offense and just a smidge behind Charlotte's.) But the defense has been stunning (best in the league), and hasn't showed any signs of slowing down.
The Kings won't try to slow down the game (they are 10th in pace and getting faster), but they will try to pick apart the overall weak Toronto defenders, particularly point guard T.J. Ford and a bench that lacks any semblance of defensive ability. Chris Bosh is a formidable defender against smaller opponents (and smaller's all Sacramento's got) and Rasho Nesterovic doesn't embarass himself around the rim, so look for the production to come from (who else?) Kevin Martin and Mike Bibby.
This is a game (unlike Wednesday's Pistons tilt) the Kings should win. But you never know til the clock sings, so let's look at starting lineups and more behind the "Read More" door...
PG - When Mike Bibby's shooting numbers return to the norm, he will easily score 20 per night.
SG - Kevin Martin no longer needs to answer your questions about whether he is ready.
SF - Ron Artest's record is not selling well, but I think his jersey is.
PF - Kenny Thomas loves In-n-Out Burger. He orders the #1. It is good.
C - Shareef Abdur-Rahim is an NBA center whether you like it or not.
PG - T.J. Ford is Steve Nash, but without a jumpshot, without premier court vision, with a scarier back problem, two inches shorter, and without Shawn Marion and without a coach who knows how to teach and run an uptempo offense. Other than that, T.J. Ford is Steve Nash.
SG - Anthony Parker is French and old.
SF - Morris Peterson is not a 1970s soul singer.
PF - Chris Bosh is < LeBron James and Dwyane Wade but very possibly > Carmelo Anthony? Discuss.
C - Rasho Nesterovic does not yell Stephen A. Smith's name too often. He finds it boring. However, Stephen A. Smith does not find yelling Rasho Nesterovic's name boring. On the contrary, he believes it to be true that people are entertained when he (Stephen A. Smith) tells Rasho Nesterovic's name. However, this is self-delusion. People, on the whole, hate when Stephen A. Smith yells Rasho Nesterovic's name. They would be far more entertained, they find, if Rasho Nesterovic would yell Stephen A. Smith's name.
Sacramento is 7-point favorites, and the o/u is set at 198. I think the Kings win outright, but seven points is a lot considering the two superclose games the teams had last season. Also, 198 is a little high, considering neither offense has thus far light up the night sky. I say take Toronto with the points and the under. I am 2-1 thus far. (Also, jump on the Washington-New Jersey over at 200 with both feet. Two fastest teams in the league, and the Wizards are the best offensive team so far. And they're evenly matched, so overtime comes into play. Over over over.)
INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Kenny Thomas has famously done a fantastic job defending premier power forwards - Kevin Garnett twice, Rasheed Wallace - thus far. Chris Bosh is quicker and a better shooter, though. So, yes, another test for K-9. Here's to undersized but active and skilled defenders.
A nice break this week
Leaves our Kings rested, we hope.
Now? Start those engines.
There is the distinct possibility one of Mike Bibby or Kevin Martin will go off for 30+. There is also the slight possibility both will go off for 30+. This excites me greatly.
It's a 6pm game. Three in a row? Let's hope so!