How long has it been since the Kings played a basketball game? It feels like forever, right? A lot has happened since we last saw Kings basketball. A head coach died only to be brought back from the dead, we all learned how optional shootarounds work, and a worthy scapegoat was finally found in Bobby Jackson. We all knew your time would come, B-Jax. It was only a matter of time.
But the last time the Kings played actual basketball, things weren't any prettier. The East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers ran rampant on a hapless defense that has surrendered 120.1 points per game over their last 4 games -- all losses. At this point in the season, the only thing fans know with absolute clarity is that nothing is clear. More than anything, the Kings just need a win. They'll look to right the ship versus the Philadelphia 76ers, a team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but more importantly, a team that bested the Kings at home earlier this season. They love to get up and down the court as most of their players' defining skills are in fact their ability to run up and down said court. Lord knows that against the Kings, that may be a recipe for record-breaking scoring highs. The game can be seen on CSN-CA, heard on KHTK 1140 and begins at 4pm. Let's talk Kings basketball.
What to Watch For:
How will the team respond to the last few days? So George Karl was the Kings coach. Then he wasn't. And now he is. Something tells me there was a reality there that the Kings players were looking forward to more than, say, the team's minority owners. One has to believe that the team we see begin the game against the 76ers will be the team we see for the duration of the season. This is the time to pick an identity -- will this team fold under the stressful environment management has inculcated them in? Or will they use this motivation to finish the season strong? There are only so many gut-check moments one group of guys can have over the course of a season.
Will there be a coherent defensive scheme? Apparently George Karl and Vlade Divac have a lot more in common than we all previously thought. George Karl apparently saved his job by having a heart to heart with the Kings' head man in which he expressed a desire to change the team's defensive disposition, or lack thereof, among other things. Well, this will obviously be the test to see if Karl has an actual defense in his bag of tricks to go along with the wool he pulled over Divac's eyes.
A motivated Boogie. Over the course of this tough stretch, the demeanor of one King in particular has come under fire. The Kings' All-Star center began the new calendar year with a much more jovial demeanor and was subsequently rewarded with a team that began to sniff the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. Since then, the wheels have obviously fallen off. Nagging injuries and mounting losses have hacked away at the disposition Cousins has carefully constructed for himself, all culminating in Grant Napear rightfully calling out his commitment to the team on his radio show yesterday afternoon. If any of this is to work, DeMarcus Cousins has to be an engaged member of the Sacramento Kings. Personally, I am dubious to how realistic that can be after all the drama of the last few days.
Odds and Ends:
- The Kings are looking to avoid a seventh straight road loss.
- The last two Western Conference opponents the 76ers have faced: the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. They lost both on a game-winner by Harrison Barnes and in overtime to the team that hates its equipment staff. Moral of the story, and forgive me if you have heard this before: they are not to be taken lightly.
- New drinking game: Drink every time former King Nik Stauskas does something on the court that makes us all go "Aw." We will all die. Well, I'm 19 years old, so I won't. Wink. Also, the game is at 4pm so please don't do this.
- Check out Will's Q&A about Kings-Sixers over at Philadunkia.
Prediction: The Kings come out like gangbusters behind a motivated DeMarcus Cousins realizing that the only thing in between him and All-Star Weekend is a team that allows 45 points in the paint per game. Kings win 113-106.
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