The Sacramento Kings have won three games! They're three and a half games outside of Western Conference playoffs! Things are trending up! Right? Right?! Well, for the rare Kings optimist who sees the Kings facing the Spurs twice, the Clippers,Thunder, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Pelicans and Cavaliers in the next two and a half week as a positive thing, then yes, things are trending upward! For everyone else; Wednesday night's game against the San Antonio Spurs marks the Sacramento Kings head first decent into a Western Conference wood chipper that rewards their passage through to the end with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But, lets not get too far out ahead of ourselves and overlook the second best team in the NBA. The Spurs are great. The Kings are desperate. The games at home. The stage is set.
The game can be seen on CSN-CA or ESPN, can be heard on KHTK 1140 and begins at 7:30 pm. Let's talk Kings basketball.
A Few Things to Consider:
San Antonio Spurs by the Numbers: Whether it be on the offensive side of the ball, their defense, or their ability to quietly slip some extra cash into the pockets of a penniless game preview writer, the San Antonio Spurs are fantastic. They own the best field goal percentage in the league at 49.1%, the second best percentages in both two and three point shooting at 51.8% and 39.5% respectively, and are third in the league in free throw percentage, shooting collectively at 79.5% for the season. They really do seem to do just about everything well. They're third in the league in defensive rebounding, fourth in assists, fifth in blocks and eighth in turnovers. All of these things amount to the seventh highest scoring team in the league and the the third best offensive rating.
The defensive side of the ball is just as good for San Antonio. They're the best rated defense in the league, and hold their opponents to under 93 points a game, also the best in the NBA. The Spurs allow the fewest three pointers attempted and made in the NBA, and allow their opponents to shoot at the second lowest percentage in the league at 32.4%. In fact, they allow the third lowest amount of field goals made, the seventh lowest field goal percentage and the third lowest field goals attempted. Going through their defensive stats shows a litany of rankings in the top 10; a painful amount of single digits numbers that when placed in the right order on an official NBA decoder ring spell out "D-E-A-T-H".
If the Kings are going to find a way to secure a fourth straight victory in their trudge back to playoff contention, they're going to have to play their best basketball of their year. With Manu Ginobili out with a testicular injury and Kawhi Leonard questionable for the game with calf tightness, there is a window of opportunity to be had for the Kings. We aren't talking a bay window with a view of Martha's Vineyard here; think more along the lines of a United economy class, red eye flight across the country and the snoring man sitting to the left got up to use the restroom and left the blinds half down when he checked to see if the sun had risen. The Spurs won't be laying down on Wednesday night at Sleep Train, even with their super-sub and best player being hampered with injuries. If the Kings can play at their pace, and get hot from three early the game could stay competitive. But if they allow themselves to slow down and work at the Spurs speed, and let the Spurs get into what they want to do by working the ball inside out, the Kings will slowly be crushed by San Antonio's efficiency and smart decision making, and this game could be over at half.
Odds and Ends:
-This game sees the return of former Sacramento Kings Summer League great, Ray McCallum. As half of the McRookie tandem, the Kings drafted McCallum 36th overall in 2014 and served a short but fairly memorable time with the Kings, culminating in MVP honors at the 2014 NBA Summer League. Ray was traded last year to the San Antonio Spurs for a 2016 second round draft pick. Also, Please see the end of this preview for the most terrifying yet cute man-date picture ever of Ray and Spurs rookie center Boban Marjanovic as they took in a Cal vs Arizona basketball game recently.
- In 121 games against the San Antonio Spurs, the Sacramento Kings have won a total of 39 times.
- San Antonio is 650 feet above sea level. Sacramento is 30 feet above sea level. Oxygen tanks are standing by.
- In Caron Butler related news; Caron was recently added to the ever exclusive "Huskies of Honor" during a ceremony at the University of Connecticut on February 13th. Caron was only the 24th player ever inducted, joining current teammate Rudy Gay who was inducted in 2012.
Prediction: George Karl finally gives Ben the green light and he promptly starts hitting three's any chance the Spurs give him even a ray of daylight. Pre-game, the Kings vote unanimously and decide to place a B.O. ban on the locker room, and now no longer allowed to stink, the upset the second best team in the West: Kings 100, Spurs 97.
For the other side of things, please turn your attention to Pounding The Rock.