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Kings vs. Timberwolves Preview: Trap game or cake walk?

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After wrapping up a 2-1 homestand with a victory over the Chicago Bulls, the Kings are back on the road again for a four game trip starting today in Minnesota.  The Timberwolves are ravaged by injuries and thanks to this summer's Kevin Love trade are more full of potential than actual production.  This is a rare early season game for Sacramento that they should be expected to win, but they can't fall into the trap of playing down to their opponent.  Tonight's action tips off at 5:00 pm tonight on Comcast SportsNet California and on KHTK 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1. As I mentioned above, the Wolves have been hit really hard by injuries.  Ricky Rubio is out indefinitely with an ankle injury and Minnesota just learned on Friday that Kevin Martin fractured his wrist in their win over the Knicks and also will be out for a while.  They're also without two other starters in Thaddeus Young (who is on indefinite leave from the team after the passing of his mother) and Nikola Pekovic (foot issues).  In their absence the Wolves are relying heavily on their young players.  The Kings have a rare experience advantage and they need to use it.

2. Sacramento matches up incredibly well against the Wolves, especially with their main guys missing.  The Wolves (like the Kings), don't shoot or make many three pointers, ranking among the league's worst in that category.  They're also a very poor rebounding team and allow the 2nd most rebounds to opponents.  Minnesota's also 29th in total assists and 30th in blocks.  They're ranked 28th in defensive rating and 29th in opponent points per game and allowing a league worst 50.5% from the field.  There's absolutely no reason for Sacramento lose this game.

3. The Kings have had to face some of the NBA's best teams to start this year, and this probably represents the first truly bad team they've played (Denver has finally found its stride lately).  Sacramento has so many advantages that a loss here would be easily the worst of the season.  The Wolves have a lot of young talent, but I don't see how anyone can even stop Rudy Gay, let alone DeMarcus Cousins.  Sacramento has to come out and set the tone early, never letting this young, excitable team get a glimmer of hope.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Gorgui Dieng

Dieng is Minnesota's only real big man with Pekovic being out, and while he's got some promise, he's not nearly strong enough to handle DeMarcus Cousins by himself.  The Wolves will likely be throwing double and possibly triple teams at Cousins all night, so it will be up to the rest of Cousins' teammates to move without the ball and get open.  If Cousins can get Dieng into foul trouble, the Wolves will be in even more trouble than they already are, losing the only real vestige of rim defense they do have, as well as their leading rebounder.

PREGAME LIMERICK

For once we have an easy game,
a loss would be such a shame.
Let's do this right,
not let the Wolves bite,
and continue to pursue acclaim.

PREDICTION

Kings 124, Timberwolves 91 because this is a season full of surprises and for once we take care of business rather than play down.