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Kings vs. Heat Preview: Oh no, they have Whiteside

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have struggled to find a new identity in the wake of LeBron James' decision and have limped out to a 17-22 start.  Still, they have enough talent to beat the inconsistent Kings if Sacramento is not on top of their game.  The Kings have had a couple days to recover from Tuesday night's heartbreaking loss to the Mavericks, but they could be without Rudy Gay.  Today's action tips off at 7:00 pm on Comcast SportsNet California and on KHTK 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1. Sacramento's a little bit banged up.  Rudy Gay suffered an injury to his left knee early in the game against the Mavericks on Tuesday and as of yesterday, it appears doubtful he will play tonight.  Likewise, backup forward Carl Landry also hurt himself in that game and injured his wrist and is listed as questionable.  On one bright note, Omri Casspi, who has been out with a knee contusion, has been upgrade from out to questionable.  That doesn't mean Omri will play tonight, but it does mean he's closer to returning which is good.

2. Hey, look who's playing really well for the Miami Heat! It's Hassan Whiteside!  Whiteside came back to the NBA after two full seasons out of the league and he's returned with a vengeance, averaging 7.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 15.8 minutes a game.  Those numbers have been even better over the last 6 games at 13.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 24.1 minutes a game.  Whiteside has managed to claim the starting center spot from Chris Andersen and is making a name for himself around the league.  Going up against former teammate DeMarcus Cousins however will be his toughest challenge to date.

3. Miami's a terrible rebounding team and the Kings should look to punish them inside, Whiteside or no.  Cousins should have a field day going up against Miami's interior and Sacramento's guards and forwards should also look to penetrate the paint to try to get easy buckets and/or fouls.  Derrick Williams in particular should look to be aggressive, especially since it's probable he gets the start in place of Rudy Gay.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Chris Bosh vs. Jason Thompson

This obviously isn't the same Heat team as it has been in years past with LeBron James leading the way.  Chris Bosh, largely relegated to being a "superstar roleplayer" while LeBron was in town, is back to showing that he's still one of the NBA's best big men, and is making the most of his newfound touches to average 21.2 points on 47.2% from the floor and 39% from three.  Bosh can score from just about anywhere, and it will be up to JT to make life difficult for him.

PREGAME LIMERICK

There once was a Kings fan who cried
at the thought of untapped upside.
Now it's the Heat,
who get to repeat
"It's ok, we have Whiteside"

PREDICTION

Kings 110, Heat 109 after Hassan Whiteside saves the game for Sacramento with a game-winning goaltend.