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Kings vs. Bulls Preview: The East finally comes to town

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Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Your Sacramento Kings are on national tv tonight to take on a very tough Chicago Bulls team.  Sacramento is looking to go 2-1 on this short homestand before heading back out on the road and also trying to avoid dropping down to .500 for the first time since they were 1-1. This is also Sacramento's first game against an Eastern Conference opponent. Tonight's action tips off at 7:30 pm tonight on TNT and on KHTK 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1. Both teams are dealing with injuries although it's more severe for Chicago.  Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol are both definitively out for tonight's game.  Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich will likely get the start in their place.  For the Kings, Rudy Gay is once again listed as questionable because of his achilles tendinitis, but he was able to play against the Pelicans on Tuesday.  DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson are also dealing with small nagging injuries but are both expected to play.  The Bulls are still a dangerous team when shorthanded though, and are coming off a 16 point thrashing of the Clippers in Los Angeles without Gasol or Rose.

2. Chicago has typically been known as a defensive team under Coach Tom Thibodeau, but this year they've also gotten their offense together, with the 7th highest ranked offense in the league through 11 games.  Third year player Jimmy Butler has emerged as a rising star, averaging 21.3 points on 50.8% from the field and 37% from three to go along with 6.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals and .7 blocks, all while playing an obscene 40.3 minutes per game.  He'll be a tough matchup for Ben McLemore, but slowing him down should slow down Chicago's offense.

3. The Bulls have a habit of riding their starters for long periods of time, as indicated by Butler's minutes.  That means that if Sacramento's rotation stays the same, we'll see stretches where the Bulls best players are going against Sacramento's bench.  The Bulls also feature not just one, but two Ryan Anderson type players off the bench in Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic that like to pop out and shoot threes.  Neither player is as polished as Anderson of course, but the Kings can't forget about them like they were forgetting Anderson the other night.  Anderson's shooting changed the momentum of that game.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Joakim Noah

Cousins and Noah are two of the best Centers in the league, so this is going to be a battle.  Cousins is able to bully most opponents, but Noah is a crafty defender who also possesses the size, strength and quickness to guard Cousins by himself.  Noah's not a slouch on the other side of the court either, where he possesses some of the best (if not the best) passing skills for a big man in the entire league, averaging 4.6 assists a game.  Noah also plays very physical, which has tended to frustrate Cousins in the past.  Cousins will have to stay calm and collected and if he can get the better of this matchup, the Kings will have a good chance to win.  Without Cousins (and possibly Gay due to injury) at his best, this will be a tough, tough game for Sacramento.

PREGAME LIMERICK

Tonight we're honoring our greats,
from a team that nobody hates.
To Bibby and Webb,
May they never ebb!
and hopefully a victory awaits.

PREDICTION

Kings 108, Bulls 88 after Joakim Noah recreates his Half Baked scene again.