After a comeback victory against the Timberwolves on Saturday night, the Kings have taken off for their first extended road trip of the season and are looking to prove that their much improved defense and offensive consistency aren’t just a flash in the pan. With the first in a series of five games in a row on the road, Sacramento will look to take on a retooled Hawks team that has spent the first two games of this season holding their opponents to 85 points a game, all the while being led by newly re-signed point guard Dennis Schröder and big man Dwight Howard. With the Kings slowly building a Cinderella status early this season, each game is a much watch, and every game is suddenly winnable; Monday night’s is no different.
Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Monday, October 31st; 4:30pm PST
Where: CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 am
A Few Things to Consider:
Centers of Attention: The real draw in Monday night’s game in Atlanta is going to be how DeMarcus Cousins handles being guarded by center Dwight Howard. Howard, who was passed over in the offseason by a Rockets squad looking to build a team based around Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, has always been a matchup DeMarcus Cousins seems to play up to and as the gap in talent and production slowly widens between the two, it becomes more and more apparent that on any given night, the only center in the league that can really stop DeMarcus Cousins, is DeMarcus Cousins. On Saturday, Kings fans were treated to a DeMarcus technical, then fouling out, and something very new: him throwing his mouth piece and then taking a trip into the stands. While the issue can be downplayed because he was at home, DeMarcus has to know that these are things that affect him in All-NBA voting, in how the referee’s treat you during pivotal moments later in the season, and heaven forbid if he’s close to the suspension line with the playoffs in reach. Getting back to his matchup with Howard, Dwight has managed to hit only five of his thirteen shots to start the season, good for 38.5 percent, but has hit three of his four free throws. We now live in a world, where through two games, Dwight Howard has only managed thirteen shots and four free throws. The other side of the coin is that he’s also already blocked six shots, grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and 16 defensive but, geez, time waits for no man. DeMarcus tonight should really look to get Dwight in early foul trouble as Atlanta’s bench consists of the largely unproven Mike Muscala and Walter Taveres. This problem will extend to more than just the center position, but more on that below.
Little Quick Mini-Game Here: I’m going to give you a quote and you have to tell me if this is something that Dwight Howard or Dwight Schrute from the Office said:
“Would I ever leave this [company]? Look, I’m all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I’m being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly… I’m going wherever they value loyalty the most.”
Point Guard Watch, Game 4: In game four of the Kings time without incumbent starter Darren Collison, Sacramento will take on Dennis Schröder, a 23 year old who has spent the better part of the last three seasons as a back up behind Jeff Teague, who found himself traded to Indiana this summer. Schröder, whose name gives every writer in the NBA a chance to properly show off the proper use of an umlaut, has impressed the think tank in Atlanta and after two games as a starter, was re-upped to the tune of four years, 70 million dollars. Known for his passing savvy and tight ball handling [
post pictures of a cringing DeMarcus here], Schröder has posted a line of 12.5 points and 6.5 assists in the first two games of the season, and will again be a tough match-up for Ty Lawson, in a very similar way to Lawson’s opponent on Saturday night, Ricky Rubio. Never known for being much of a shooter, Dennis Schröder’s outside shot has looked a lot better in the first two games of the season, and it has raised his field goal percentages to over 50% from the field and 40% from deep. Did your small sample size alarm go off in your head? Good, because while Dennis’ shot does looks better, he’s also taken only five threes in two games, and only hit two, and is 10 for 22 on all field goals this season. If your SSS alarm didn’t go off, well, don’t worry. Don’t be the person starting MVP chants at an October Kings game either, but long term you should still be okay. Look to see how Ty Lawson tries to bother Dennis Schröder with his speed and the shots they give him. If the Kings can do a good job of bothering him into a shot rather than a drive-and-kick, they blunt the tip of the Hawks offensive spear. Oh, and for reference, the Hawks have only three other guards listed on their roster; Tim Hardaway, Kyle Korver and presumed back-up point guard, Malcolm Delaney. Ty Lawson pump fake over/under is gonna be set at 500 tonight.
Prediction: DeMarcus will spend the first half trying to adjust to playing in a full suit of armor and most of halftime will be spent trying to convince him that the Hawks new point guard, Spennis Spröder, is just wearing the old point guard’s jersey and hair style as a Halloween gag to scare him. Dwight Howard, having read my Dwight Schrute quote above, will start wondering if Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron still need a shot blocking center in Miami, and will start notice that the Philips Arena in Atlanta just isn’t as nice now as he thought it was this morning, and that the fans aren’t nearly as loud as he remembered. The visions of different colored jerseys with Howard on the back will flash rapidly through his brain. Not again, he’ll think. Not again.
While the centers for each team are doing whatever it is they’re doing, Rudy Gay will score 27 and the Kings will roll out of Atlanta with the victory:
Kings 107, Hawks 102