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Kings vs Trailblazers Preview: Sacramento looks to close the gap for the 8th seed

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Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

I hope everyone had a nice holiday, ate to their hearts content and you survived that one argument your cousin desperately starts every year in the hopes of distracting themselves from the ever-darkening prospects of becoming the first beatboxer to win America’s Got Talent. You’ve made it through and are here now; let’s talk Sacramento Kings basketball. Coming off of a two win, two loss holiday road trip the Sacramento Kings swing home to grab that present Uncle Terry said would get there late but is definitely in the mail, and of course, to play the Portland Trailblazers. Portland comes in at 11-20 on the season and may be without point guard Damian Lillard who, till four games ago, had never missed a single game in his professional career. The game starts at 6pm and is on CSN-CA or can be listened to on KHTK 1140.


A Few Things to Consider:


Cardiac Kings


If these last four games have shown us anything, it's that the Kings seem to play to the level of their competition. Beating up teams firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture can always be seen as steps in the right direction, but those steps look more like pauses in the moonwalk when you consider we lost to an inexperienced Minnesota team and a Washington team who had Ramon Sessions, Garrett Temple and Kris Humphries each score fifteen or more points against them. Inconsistent effort, especially against weak or injury plagued teams has seemed to haunt the kings this season and if they're looking to make a play for that 8th seed, the time to strike is now.

Kick 'em While They're Down

As the gap for the Western Conference's 8th seed has now close to a single game for Sacramento, every game is absolutely critical, but none more so than games they "should win". The Blazers are 5-9 in December and had lost 5 straight games before beating the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. While that game is a perfect example for the adage "on any given night", the Kings cannot afford to let teams below them in the standings sneak in wins. Damien Lillard will either be out, or hampered this game with a plantar fascia injury. The Kings should be well rested after four days off and the Trailblazers are on the second night of a back to back. If ever there was, this game is one that the Sacramento Kings should pull out. Now that I've said that, we're going to lose by 50.

A Little Extra Incentive

With the win over the Pacers, George Karl moved to within a single game of zen master and former Chicago Bulls coach, Phil Jackson. A win Sunday would put Coach Karl at 1,156 wins, sticking him in a tie for 5th place overall and 179 wins behind the NBA's winningest coach, Don Nelson.

Prediction:

Sacramento finally kicks their habit, Rondo kicks zero cameras and the Kings kick the Blazers to the curb: 114-95.

For the other side of things, please visit our friends over at Blazer's Edge.