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GAME 23 - vs Dallas

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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.

That said...

STARTERS:

SACRAMENTO
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.

DALLAS
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.


THE LINE:
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...

PREGAME HAIKU:
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.

To frosting!