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Game 52 - vs Boston

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Put away the popcorn and grab the puke buckets: Kings basketball is back!

When we last left our heroes, Sacramento suffered an embarassing defeat in Oklahoma City to the pesky Hornets, their third-straight defeat. After a rousing win streak of five, the Kings again found themselves slipslipslipping out to pasture.

Enter the Celtics, a moribund sideshow of broken promises seeking some light in their dark winter's playoff grave. Boston snapped an 18-game losing streak with a win over the equally woeful Bucks before All-Star festivities began, knocking any national interest for tonight's Sactown matchup off the radar. It could've been special, too - the Kings are well qualified to end long losing streaks, as the 1999 Clippers learned.

Instead, we're left with a battle bereft of serious drama or worldwide ramifications. We actually have to enjoy the game. Shudder to think.

Business time.

STARTERS:

SACRAMENTO
PG - You know, personally: I might miss Mike Bibby more than Chris Webber or Peja Stojakovic. That doesn't mean I don't think it's smart to see what you can get for him. He is not right for this roster. But still, I can't forget those Laker games...
SG - Kevin Martin is no longer a threat for the Larry Bird Club: he's got 20+ ppg (21.0) and the .400+ three-point percentage (.420), but his FG% has "slipped" to .494 and the FT% has dipped down .860 with the return of leather. Hmph.
SF - Has Ron Artest played himself right out of trade talks? Or was he never a serious consideration for the midseason swap meet unless some serious pieces were coming back?
PF - Shareef Abdur-Rahim gets another go at power forward. He has been nothing but professional, despite apparently being jerked around by Eric Musselman.
C  - A return of Justin Williams? If Brad Miller can't go and Kenny Thomas sits, then it almost has to be Williams. He got the quick hook last time; let's hope he gets a chance to show his mettle against an iffy Boston frontline.

BOSTON
PG - Delonte West has been mentioned in some grassroots Bibby-to-Boston comments. West is, at this point, a lesser version of Bibby two ticks toward shooting guard. Also, a bigger and more refined Quincy Douby with less potential. I'm of the "no-thanks" opinion on this one.
SG - Paul Pierce was a second-tier MVP candidate a year ago. Just how good is he? We've never gotten a perfect read on this since he's stuck in Boston, first with Antoine Walker and now with Wally Sczcerbiak. How good would he look lined up next to a real player?
SF - Ryan Gomes is another intriguing Boston prospect. He could be a solid backup forward for a decade, or maybe a low-level Kenny Thomas.
PF - Al Jefferson is the prize of the Boston kids. I think he's on the road to being a very solid pro, probably sub-Gasol but who knows. He can score at will, so if he learns how to play defense and gets a real chance under the next Celtics head coach, the sky's the limit.
C  - Everything about Brian Scalabrine makes me laugh.


THE LINE:
The Kings are six-point favorites. They actually shouldn't allow NBA betting this week, with the trade winds circulating and such. I'd lay the points only if I were guaranteed Bibby and Artest would both play.

INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT NOTE:
I've got nothing. Seriously, so little is important about tonight's game... And the last two epic Sacramento-Boston matchups have been borderline unwatchable, from a basketball standpoint. But what do I know? I actually enjoyed the Rookie Challenge.

PREGAME HAIKU:
A team worse than SAC?
It's true! Boston is in town.
Let the yawning start.

Enjoy the game.