After a brutal five game home stand in which the Sacramento Kings went 2-5, the Kings have now headed out on the road for a six game road trip with winnable games at every single stop. First up, the Kings take on the Brooklyn Nets; an organization still very much in the thick of a rebuild and possessing many more questions than answers. Anchored at center by Brook Lopez and coached by up-and-comer Kenny Atkinson, the Nets are a team the Sacramento Kings should be able to handle, if they have any shot of finishing the season out of the Western Conference cellar. Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Sunday, November 27th; 3:00pm PST
Where: Barclays Center, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Breaking Down the Nets:
Offense: At first glance, this season’s version of the Brooklyn Nets feels a tad reminiscent to last year’s Sacramento Kings squad. Currently, playing at the fastest pace in the league, they average 104.9 points per game, good for 13th in the league. The Net’s attempt the fourth most three’s a game, 34.1 a contest, but are the fifth worst at shooting them at 32.6% a game. With a fantastic center in Brook Lopez holding down the paint, the Nets are the third best shooting team from inside the arc at 51.4%, but shoot the third least two pointers in the NBA. They’re 25th in the league in assists, and 22nd in the league in turnovers, and are the fifth worst rebounding team in the league. This team is, by most offensive measurements, a bad basketball team.
Defense: The defense is also a problem for the Nets, where they give up the highest opponents points per game at 113.5 a contest, the second highest opponent field goal percentage at 47.2%, and are neither a shot blocking team (4.4 a game, 26th in the league) nor a team that creates many steals (8.0 a game, 18th in the league). The one player on their team who could even be said to have a defensive presence is Trevor Booker, who is averaging 2.1 steals a contest and 0.7 blocks; 1st and 2nd on his team in those categories, respectively.
Kings Focus: The Sacramento Kings today should focus on containing Brook Lopez as well as finding a way, really any way, to run shooters off of the three point line. The quickened pace for the Nets will provide transition three’s, and if the Kings elect to once again close out slow on the shooter, they’re in for a long night. Oddly, it’s centers Justin Hamilton and Brook Lopez who are the Nets best three point shooters. Hamilton this season has shot 42.6% on 3.6 attempts from deep and Brook Lopez is shooting 36.2% a game, and a team high 5.2 attempts. Past that, there isn’t a single player on the Nets shooting over 33.3%, including the guys who are second, third and fourth in attempts. Meeting the opponent and sticking to the three point line to contest will be a huge help this time around, and with Lopez averaging over a three more a game than even DeMarcus Cousins is shooting, Sacramento limiting his attempts can really stall what the Nets want to do. On the offensive side of the ball, the Kings could really use a good game from Darren Collison, who tried their hardest to pull a disappearing act against Houston. Getting one of them hot early allows for space down low where Cousins is apt to run into trouble with Brook Lopez. DeMarcus will find operating in the high post and taking his man off the dribble will be a bit easier Sunday night against the Nets than last game against the Rockets.
Prediction: The Kings will come out on a mission Sunday and get up big on the Nets. At half time, Sacramento will find they have trouble containing newly signed Israeli rookie Gomry Gasspi, who is running all over the Kings. After his 5th three of the second half leads to Gasspi giving Sacramento’s coach Dave Joerger the bird, Gasspi is ejected and never seen in the NBA again. Needing a spark, Dave Joerger will call on Omri Casspi to provide it, but will have to take a timeout, as Omri will end up being in the bathroom when his name is called. Omri will come out strong, and though he will be unable to play against his fellow countryman, he’ll take solace in the fact that the Kings are giving him minutes, as they damn well should.
Kings: 115, Nets: 99