After a missed opportunity at home against the Lakers, the Kings will now have to play their second night in a back to back against the Portland Trail Blazers; a team hungry to prove that their run to the playoffs last year was no fluke. Coming off of a 30 point loss on Wednesday night to the Clippers, the Blazers and their all-world guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will be looking to right the ship and show the world that they’re better than the 5-4 record they hold. It’s a second night of a back to back, on the road, after a loss in which the Kings gave up a 19 point lead and eventually lost by more than 10. This should go swimmingly! Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: November 11th; 7:00 pm PST
Where: Moda Center, Portland; CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140
Something to Consider:
Breaking Down the Blazers: Winners of three of their last four games, the Trail Blazers are a team ready to make some noise, and chock full of players with something to prove. Damian Lillard, one of the best point guards on the planet, has been passed over for a spot on the All-Star team not once, but twice. CJ McCollum is looking to show his breakout season was just a preview of the things to come. All teams have players that play with a chip on their shoulder, but this roster in particular seems like an entire group of players that most teams just sort of passed over or gave up on too early. So how are the scrappy, upstart Trail Blazers going to try to beat a Kings team fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Lakers? Offense, Offense, Offense.
The Blazers are currently the 9th highest scoring team in the game at, 106.9 points per game, and get by with a barrage of three pointers. Currently the seventh most accurate team from deep in the NBA at 37.2%, the Blazers are also fourth in attempts. While point guard Damian Lillard, who is currently average 30 points a game, is right at his team average from deep, and hitting 2.6 per game, the real star from beyond the arc has been his backcourt mate CJ McCollum. McCollum, the reigning NBA Most Improved Player, is currently shooting 46.7% from three point territory, making an average of 2.3 threes a game, on nearly two less attempts per game than Lillard. But that isn’t where it stops. Moe Harkless and Allen Crabbe are each averaging over a three a game, as well as shooting over 37% from deep. If the Kings are looking to put a mark in the win column Friday night, the first thing they need to do is run every shooter on the court off the three point line. The Blazers offense is also adept at drawing fouls, where they are eighth in the league in free throw attempts and sixth in percentage, shooting a fraction over 80% from the line. The cracks are there though. They’re in the bottom ten in turnovers, with 15.4 a game and while they’re the ninth best team in total rebounding, they’re 26th in offensive rebounds and make up for that deficiency in their defensive rebounding where they are fourth in the NBA.
More good news for the Kings is, that this iteration of coach Terry Stotts’ Trail Blazers are pretty much a mess on defense, where they have allowed teams to score an average of 110 points against them, third worst in the entire league. The Blazers are also dead last in the amount of two point attempts they give up to opponents, and foul their opponent more than every team in the league save for two. Oddly enough, it is Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum who lead their team in fouls per game, at 3.7 and 3.2 per game respectively. Where they do seem to make up for it is around the arc, where they allow the eighth most attempts but hold teams to shooting 31.6%, fifth best in the league. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins should have a field day against the Blazers and if the guards can withstand the constant pick attempts from the Trail Blazers lead guards and get them into a bit of early foul trouble, the Kings could find a way out of Portland with a win and help make up for the missed opportunity in Sacramento on Thursday night.
Prediction: Darren Collison will finally shake the rust off his game, and find himself pestering Damian Lillard on both ends of the floor; drawing fouls on one end, and containing him on the other. Should-have-been-King CJ McCollum will smile and schmooze his way to the basket, shaking hands and giving poignant answers in route to a 27 point game, all the while thanking his teammates and coach for giving him the opportunity to succeed after every single shot. Willie Cauley-Stein is dunking on someone. DeMarcus Cousins is scowling and Euro stepping someone out of their shoes and the Kings are going to roll out of Portland with a big W:
Kings 107, Portland 100