After an embarrassing 20 point loss at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, the Kings find themselves back in Sacramento, this time facing the Portland Trail Blazers; losers in six of their last seven contests and a team desperately in need of a win. In their last match-up, the Kings and Blazers duked it out for four quarters and five minutes of overtime where the Blazers came away with a two point victory, 122-120. That game also featured Rudy Gay going for 29 points and Arron Afflalo scoring 15, feats that I’m pretty sure are not going to be repeated in Tuesday night’s game. So here’s to hoping the offense can rise to the occasion and if not, well, here’s to hoping the game goes quick! Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: December 20th, 7:30pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Kings Focus: Though the Trail Blazers have been a disappointment so far this season, there is much to like, or be fearful of, when it comes to the Kings facing them as opponents. Firstly, the Trail Blazers can keep up with the best in the league in terms of scoring the basketball. With Damian Lillard’s 27.4 points and C.J. McCollum’s 22 points per game leading the way, the Trail Blazers have found themselves as the sixth highest scoring team in the league, averaging 109.4 per game, while running at the sixth highest pace. Even with a healthy lineup and a coach motivated to play his entire bench, if the Kings try to keep up with Portland’s tempo, this game is going to be over by halftime. Making Portland play at the pace and tempo the Kings want to play at can make this a winnable game. The Blazers are a team that is seventh in the three point shooting at 36.6% and eleventh in two point percentage at 50.6%, and so 48 minutes of containment will be needed. Tonight is not the night for needless fouls. Portland shoots the ninth most free throws in the league, and is sixth in percentage at 79.6%, so any chance of winning this game gets shoved out of the locker room quicker than you can say “Cowbell” the second the Blazers find themselves at the line early in quarters.
For all the efficiency and damage their offense does, their defense reciprocates by being atrocious. Allowing opponents to score an average of 113 points per game, the Trailblazer are third worst in opponent scoring and currently own the worst Defensive Rating in the league. They allow teams to shoot nearly 39% from deep on the 11th most attempts, while also giving up nearly 50% from inside the arc with the second most attempts. This year’s Trail Blazers are a nuclear submarine with a screen door. Portland players foul more than any team in the league save for two, and opponents shoot the second most free throws in the league when playing against Rip City. Getting to the line will be big tonight, especially against the painfully thin frontcourt of Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard, Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh. Last game DeMarcus allowed Leonard to get under his skin with spats of unnecessary contact just about every time down the court, so brushing the antagonist off and forcing the refs to call fouls early to send him to the bench would be help. Limiting turnovers is the other major key alert tonight. The Blazers are 22nd in steals, and the Kings are 16th in turnovers at 14.3 a game and with a game that will already be an uphill battle without second leading scorer Rudy Gay, any deviation from the average and the Kings are looking at resting their All-Star center by middle of the third quarter.
Prediction: 6-time All-Star snub Arron Afflalo checks into the game tonight. He plays ... basketball! He shoots... on occassion! His teammates will high-five him at least 4 times and the Kings will win, in part, because of his efforts.
[My predictions have always been farfetched, right?]
Kings: 112, Blazers: 107