Sacramento Kings at Miami Heat
4:30 p.m. Pacific on Comcast SportsNet California and NBA TV
The Kings coming into Miami after two heartbreaking losses in games they should have won, and losers of five straight. The Heat, meanwhile, could not be playing any better, winners of six straight (all by double digits, with five being on the road) and currently tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the NBA's best record.
LeBron James isn't just having a great season. He's having one of the best seasons in NBA history. He's averaging a hair under 28 points a game on almost 55% from the field, over 8 rebounds and almost 7 assists and 2 steals in just 36.7 minutes per game. His current PER of 32.8 is the highest ever recorded since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963. In short, James has been a monster, and the Kings have absolutely no answer for him.
The scariest part about the Heat is that James isn't alone. He's joined by All-NBA talents in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who are also having great seasons and shooting nearly 50%. The Heat's roleplayers are also very good at doing their job as well; Mario Chalmers and rookie Norris Cole do a fine job at the Point Guard spot, and on the wings the Heat can rely on Shane Battier, Mike Miller and James Jones. The bigs are a little weaker, with Joel Anthony only being particularly good at shotblocking, but Udonis Haselm is one of the better defensive big men in the league, if a bit undersized.
This is a very scary Miami team. They are one of the top defensive units in basketball and have the highest Offensive Rating in the NBA. The Heat are shooting almost 49% from the field, and have four guys who are shooting 40+% from three-point range with another in Battier at 37.2%.
It will be interesting to see if the Kings stick with their current starting lineup for this game, as Evans is too small to guard LeBron James and Thornton is too small and not nearly quick enough to guard Wade. Then again, changing the lineup assumes the Kings actually have anybody that can guard those two players.
The one position the Kings can really look to try to exploit is down low with DeMarcus Cousins against Anthony/Haslem/Bosh. If DeMarcus can get going, the Kings may have a chance to be in the game at the very least. Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton will also probably have to have huge nights themselves, a tough task when guarded by a combo of James, Wade and Battier. The bench will also need to be vastly more productive than it has been to date.
This Heat team is not unbeatable, but it will take a bunch of things going the Kings way for them to have a shot at winning.
The game's at 4:30. Game threads at 4:30 and 6:00. Let's go Kings!