Another night, another elite team.
Crazy stretch - three of the four best teams in the league in four nights. Luckily for the Kings, they stole one on the first night, thus keeping tonight's tilt from being a pressure-packed cardiac affair.
Honestly, I have no expectations for the Kings in this game. As long as Jason Hart doesn't hack at Josh Howard on a breakaway with 75 seconds left, sparking a riot that gets Artest suspended 15 games, I'm good with it. I just want to be entertained.
PG - If there is a Santa, there will be a Mike Bibby resurrection in the New Year. If Santa is a Kings fan, there will be a Mike Bibby resurrection in the New Year before Mike Bibby gets traded.
SG - I think Kevin Martin will give it a go.
SF - Ron Artest didn't look for his offense at all against Phoenix. I suspect that will change tonight.
PF - Free Shareef.
C - Don't expect Brad Miller to be effective tonight, either. Perhaps Thursday against Washington.
PG - I like Devin Harris, and I think he'll be a good player. But is he really enough to be untouchable in a trade for Allen Iverson? Insane.
SG - Jason Terry will outplay Mike Bibby. I've never before confidently assumed that.
SF - I also like Josh Howard, and I think he's a vastly underrated player. But he's got to be at the low-end of elite-team second bananas, right? That, or even I underestimate him.
PF - Dirk Nowitzki will probably never win an MVP, and that's kind-of criminal, in a way.
C - Erick Dampier will probably never win an MVP.
Los Mavericks are 4-point favorites in Sacramento. I doubt I need to suggest that the Mavericks are easily 4 points better than the Kings on any court. Vegas hasn't realized how mediocre the Kings are everywhere, including ARCO, yet.
INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT NOTE:
For a chance to win, the Kings either need Dirk to be awful (he wasn't spectacular in the earlier matchup) or they need Martin to play and play well as well as a breakout from Bibby or Miller, or a monster game from Artest. I think two 20-point scorers for the Kings will keep them in it. But Dallas just has too much talent, and the matchups favor the Mavericks in almost every way...
Dirk is back in town.
He's not as great as last year,
but a tall task still.
This three-game swing against the West's best (excluding San Antonio) is already a victory with the win in Utah. A win tonight is frosting, in my lowered-expectations mind.