The Sacramento Kings have won two straight, but their final game of this homestand is going to be a big challenge. The visiting Toronto Raptors are 7-3 and feature one of the most explosive backcourts in the NBA today. A win tonight would be huge for this team's confidence heading into a five-game road trip next week. Today's action tips off at 6:00 pm on CSN California and on KHTK 1140.
1. Will Collison and/or Gay be back? Collison has missed four games with a strained hamstring and the Kings have really missed his offensive spark off the bench. Rajon Rondo has stepped up in his absence, but at the cost of any rest; Rondo has played all but 8 of the available minutes during the last four games. Seth Curry is back but wasn't particularly effective in his short stint on Friday against the Nets. Rudy Gay also missed Friday's game with a bout of gastroenteritis, which is unfortunate as he was coming off his best game of the season against Detroit and had finally seemed to get into a rhythm. James Ham reports that it's likely that Rudy will give it a go, so Sacramento will at least have one big part of their offense back.
2. Will Kings get back on transition defense? One of the reasons Sacramento's defense has been so porous this season is that they have done a terrible job of playing transition defense, and especially allowing points off turnovers and fastbreak points. The Nets, for example, were averaging just 8 fastbreak points a game coming into their match against Sacramento and they had 12 in the first half alone. With guys like Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to contend with, transition D will be extremely important tonight.
3. Can the Kings keep the Raptors off the line? Toronto is currently leading the league in Free Throw attempts at 30.7 a game. DeRozan and Lowry alone account for more than half of that number at a combined 15.9 attempts a game.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Rajon Rondo vs. Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry has slimmed down and is playing better than ever, averaging 19.4 points, 6.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game. This is going to be an extremely tough defensive assignment for Rajon Rondo. The Kings have tried hiding Rondo on the weaker backcourt partner at points this season but given DeMar DeRozan is the other backcourt partner, neither matchup is particularly favorable for the Kings.
Kings 108, Raptors 106 as Bismack Biyombo, who was drafted by the Kings in 2011 before he was traded to the then Charlotte Bobcats, proves his everlasting love for the team that gave him his first chance in the NBA by inbounding the ball to Rajon Rondo with the game tied at 106.