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GAME 64 vs Portland, Preview & Game Thread

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"Yo man, who's this guy hogging the bow?"

PORTLAND BLAZERS  (34-31)  108.5 ORtg (#14), 109.4 DRtg (#19), 86.9 Poss (#29)
SACRAMENTO KINGS  (28-35)  108.3 ORtg (#15), 111.5 DRtg (#26), 92.8 Poss (# 8)

When looking at the body of work, Sacramento has the better offense between these two teams. Consider Brandon Roy has missed only four games, and LaMarcus Aldridge has missed five. Kevin Martin missed 17 games, and the Kings spent the first five games of the season without an NBA point guard. (No offense, Orien Greene.) Consider those facts, and the mere 0.2 points per possession advantage Portland's #14 offense holds over Sacramento's #15 offense is put into perspective.

That said, Portland's defense is vastly superior to that of the Kings, and that's the major difference between a 34-31 team and a 28-35 team. Portland's D is #19 in the land -- not fantastic, not even good really. But it is vastly superior to Sacramento's pitiful defense.

While the guard defense has been shaky all year, it remains the frontcourt where the Kings get killed. Opposing power forwards have an aggregate PER of 17.7 against the Kings; opposing centers pull in a 19.1 PER. For all those arguing on the merits and faults of Brad Miller (even in this resurgent season), don't forget these numbers. His defense has improved and his rebounding has gotten more consistent. But it's still the weakness of this team. (Of course, this makes Spencer Hawes's defensive insurgency more audacious, and Shelden Williams's tight lease more curious.)

If Brandon Roy guards Kevin Martin primarily, Ron Artest should have a freaking field day. (No offense, Martell Webster.) If Roy guards Artest primarily, Artest and Martin should have freaking field days. (Seriously, no offense, Martell.) You'd think Portland's best shot at containing Artest would be to plant Joel Pryzbilla on Miller while cheating toward the hoop, letting Aldridge leave Mikki Moore to double an Artest guarded by either Roy or Travis Outlaw, and demand whomever guards Martin to never leave his side. Moore, though, has played well lately (mishandling only two passes a game instead of the usual 17) and Brad's about due for a string of jumpers. Hope springs occasionally!

On the other end? The Kings have got to let Artest try to handcuff Roy while sprinting out to the arc to throw hands in faces while roughing up LMA enough to convince him the elbow jumper is his safe, gentile friend. We expect Pryzbilla to go PRYZILLA on us, so whatever. Just don't let Jarrett Jack, Steve Blake, James Jones, Outlaw, Webster, and Sidney Wicks nail threes all night.

Game is at 7. I'm actually hungry for Kings Basketball; three nights off after that ridiculous victory over the Lakers left me wanting. Go Kings!