In Mike Malone's return to Sacramento, the Kings ground their way to a sloppy 116-110 victory against the Denver Nuggets, and now find themselves looking for a three game win streak, and still four games out of the eighth seed. As it seems more and more likely that every single Western Conference playoff team will end up at or above .500 this year, the Kings collars and neckties feel a bit tighter, their mouth's a bit drier, and their room for errors much smaller and smelling of extinguished hot takes. The Kings record isn't anywhere close to a level of respectability, but three straight wins would inch the line towards it quicker than a three game losing streak would, and so Tuesday night's game against the Nuggets has the Kings looking to pull a Drake and go back-to-back, this time in the Mile-High City. This game will be broadcast on CSN-CA, can be heard on KHTK 1140 and begins at 6pm. Let's talk Kings basketball.
A Few Things to Consider:
Hold On, We're Going Home?: If the Denver Nuggets had their sights set for home during their retreat from Sacramento in the hopes of having an edge when the Kings come to town on Tuesday night, there is some bad news to be heard. Statistically, the Nuggets don't seem to be any better at home than on the road. During the 2015-16 season, the Nuggets have evenly split home and away wins at 11 a piece and when glancing through their stats, Denver plays slightly better on the road then in Denver. While Denver's points per game are better at home by 3.3 points per game, this is off set when considered that their opponents also score better on average in Denver's home games, by 3.1 points per game. The Nuggets also played, and lost, a game Sunday night against the Boston Celtics. In games where Denver has a single day of rest, the Nuggets are 11-20 this season, with those 11 wins accounting for over half of their total. The Kings on the other hand, come in with 3 days rest and are 3-2 in those situations. With a chip on Denver's collective shoulders from the let down that was Coach Malone's first appearance in Sacramento and then being blown out two nights later on their home floor, the Nuggets are apt to be ready for a fight. If the Kings can respond early with another hot shooting half right off the bat and not let the hard fouls get into their heads, they stand a solid chance at leaving Colorado on a 3 game win streak.
Started From the Bottom: As is still the case with the Sacramento Kings, the defense in Friday night's game was not great. Still the worst in the NBA in opponent's points per game, opponent's made and attempted three point field goals, the Kings are also in the bottom 5 in the league in opponent's two and three point percentage, and turnovers. In regards to that last one, the Kings won Friday night's matchup having given the ball up 22 times. The Kings starting five alone had 16 of those turnovers, with only Ben McLemore and Quincy Acy having less than four.(If any of you reading happen to be James Anderson enthusiasts, he led the bench with three.) If Friday night's game was any indicator as to what the Kings maybe looking to do in terms of changing up the defense, there actually wasn't a great deal different. Given that they've now had three days to work on the rebooted defensive principles, some of the changes may include the Kings looking to play more straight up man to man, trying to limit their switches out of their zone and one change that many may agree is a nice addition, the coaches may try having a guard apply pressure to the ball handler further up court than they have been. Tuesday nights game is a good test run for Sacramento's newer philosophies, having just faced up against this particular opponent a few nights previous, especially considering Denver's coaching staff not only having a familiarity of the Kings essential players but who have also had to watch tape of both the old and now changed defensive schemes and strategies.
Odds and Ends:
Both Omri Casspi and Marco Belinelli should both be ready to go in Denver after the each sat out of Friday's contest with dental procedure complications. For reference, the Sacramento Kings hit 10 of 21 from beyond the arc in that game.
Prediction: Hiding player names in his prediction for the same team two games in a row destroys a writers creativity so he breaks and says only that the Kings win: Kings 105, Nuggets 95
For the other side of the coin, please visit our friends at Denver Stiffs.