After the first quality break in action for the Kings this season, Sacramento will be looking to shake off the long weekend and come out strong against the San Antonio Spurs. Winners of three games in a row, the Spurs roll into town for the second time this season showing off their 8-3 to a Kings team still struggling to find their identity and place in this league. Watch as Boogie Cousins once again scores 30 against five Spurs and two blind referees, watch to see if Omri Casspi has a popped vessel in his eye after the Kings don’t play him in the first half, and for those of you who are attending the game tonight, watch as your wallets and valuables disappear from you because Kawhi Leonard is out to steal anything and everything in Golden 1 Center, and look bored doing so. Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: November 16th; 7:30 pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center; CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140
Something to Consider:
Breaking Down the Spurs: In their first matchup against the Spurs this season, the Kings had a pretty distinct advantage by way of the game being the first ever regular season game in the Golden 1 Center. The crowd was rocking and the hype was something you could cut with a knife. Now, nine games later, the Kings take on the Spurs yet again and they will have to do so with each team knowing a bit more about how the other is planning to pull out a win. For the Spurs this season, their game so far has been built around stifling, suffocating defense. Keeping opponents to 96.1 points per contest, the NBA’s 3rd best defense has held teams to an average field goal percentage of 43.8% per game, as well as allowed teams to shoot only 31.7% from beyond the arc. With the bulkl of the minutes going to Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge at the forward spots, you might not expect the Spurs to also be third in the league in blocked shots per game at six a game, but backup Dewayne Dedmon has been a phenomenal signing for them and leads the team with 1.4 blocked shots a game in only 13 minutes a contest. The Spurs are also 12th in the league in steals, with Kawhi Leonard leading the team by snatching 2.5 steals a game, so, Ben McLemore, it isn’t just you man. It’s okay, come out from under the bed and play tonight!
While the Spurs have seemingly upped the ante on their defensive intensity this season, the offense that they saw a resurgence under has seemingly stuttered to start the season. Currently 20th in the league in points per game at 101.2 points a contest, the Spurs are a grab bag on a nightly basis when it comes to who is going to provide them points outside of the Big Two of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, with the next seven players on the team only averaging between five and ten points a game. The Spurs are currently the second best three point shooting team in league at 39.2%, but are only 27th in attempts at 20.5 a contest. In a near flip of the stats, the Spurs take the ninth most shots from inside the arc, but are 27th in two point field goal percentage, where they shoot 45.9%. Keeping the Spurs off the line would be a big help if the Kings want to win tonight; they take the tenth most in the NBA at 24.5 a game, but are number one in free throw percentage at 84.4% as a team.
The Kings have a relatively straight forward path to beating the Spurs on Wednesday night: stop Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs go as Kawhi goes, and disrupting his game and containing the random role player from getting hot would go a long ways towards a win. The other factor that might play into this game is injuries. Dewayne Dedmon, who pestered DeMarcus up and down the floor in their first match up, isn’t expected to play with a knee injury. The ghost of Pau Gasol tweaked his neck and is questionable. This leaves the Spurs painfully thin when trying to contain DeMarcus. Stop Kawhi, keep from getting in early foul trouble and maybe hope that coach Gregg Popovich decides tonight is one of those DNP-Old nights. Simple, right?
Prediction: Ben McLemore will come out determined to show that Kawhi Leonard is just a normal guy, just a perfectly normal, definitely not supernatural, human being and will scored 12 points in the first half, but after a near steal by Leonard, Ben will immediately call a time out and head back to the locker room. Later they’ll diagnose it as a case of the heebie-jeebies; Ben will be listed as day-to-day and not return to the game. DeMarcus will have Danny Green on him most of the second half after getting every other big man on the roster in foul trouble and the Kings will make up for their opening night loss with a win:
Kings 98, Spurs 94