After a frustrating loss to the Clippers on Friday night, the Sacramento Kings must now look to regroup and double down their efforts on attaining the illustrious position of getting bounced in the first round by the group of cyborgs and inhumans known as the Golden State Warriors. They will be looking to beat an Oklahoma City squad who lost in overtime to said Warriors squad on Saturday night.
For those hoping that the Sacramento Kings may appear to be a trap game for the Thunder, there is some bad news; the Thunder are losers in four of their last five games, and with trips to play the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State looming this week, Sacramento might be their only chance to secure a victory and get back on track. Sacramento, on the other hand, have reasons of their own to play up to the Thunder, with the aforementioned push for the eighth seed, especially by the Kings' resident All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins. If each team is serious about gaining some lost momentum, this will be the game to do it. Monday night's game can be seen on CSN-CA or NBATV, can be heard on KHTK 1140 and begins at 7pm. Let's talk Kings basketball.
By the Numbers:
This line can, and will be written for every team the Kings face this week; the Oklahoma City Thunder are a very, very good basketball team. With the generational talents that they have in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they ought to be. However the Thunder are a team whose play backs up what their talent implies. On the offensive side of the ball they're second in the league in scoring, one spot higher than the Kings with only the Warriors ahead of them. If one wonders how good the Thunder really are on the offensive side of them ball then consider this: in using traditional statistics, they are in the top 10 in every offensive category except in regards to 3 point shooting and turnovers. They're second in field goals made, fourth in attempts and third in percentage at 47.6% a game. When taking anything inside the arc, they're second in two pointers made, seventh in attempts and second in percentage at 51.8%. What about those threes that were alluded to earlier? They're 17th in three point makes, 18th in attempts and 11th in percentage at 35.6% a game, so even then, they aren't bad in the slightest. The Thunder are also a fantastic rebounding team. Like, "leading the league in rebounding", good. They're second in offensive rebounds and 4th in defensive rebounds and knowing how the first two meetings with the Kings have gone, will be more than tough on the glass.
The Thunder on the defensive side of the ball aren't anything to scoff at either, though they aren't in anyway the Spurs or Warriors. Oklahoma City currently allows opponents to score 103.8 points a game, good for 18th in the league. They're also 14th in defensive rating and yet show some very big flaws. For one, the Thunder give up the fourth highest amount of shots per game. The flip side of that however, is that they're nineth in the league in the percentage that they give up, at 44%. They're also the tenth best team in the league in 3 point attempts by opponents, but 16th in percentage at 35.3%. Again, it's a bit strange to see, but the Thunder give more 2 point shots than all but three other teams, and yet they're fourth in the league in the percentage their opponents shoot. The Sacramento Kings will get shots up Monday night, especially inside the arc. What they'll have to do is take shots with defenders on them or right on their heels. If the Kings have the composure to hit those shots, they'll have a good shot at this game. If they allow the Thunder to get them out of their shooting motions on offense, and then let the Thunder operate in the confines of their dominant offense, they Kings will be headed to Memphis early Tuesday morning with another loss in the column.
Something to Remember:
This game will be the first time that Oklahoma City assistant coach Monty Williams has come into town since the passing of his wife, Ingrid, on February 10th. Though there is no real connection to Sacramento for Monty, there is a bit of one through his wife, by way of Ryan Anderson, who she mentored and helped through his own tragedy, after his girlfriend committed suicide in 2013. Its easy sometimes to forget in the drama and entertainment that is the National Basketball Association that the men we cheer or boo, the coaches we admire or admonish; each of them has family in one way or another, and in ways much more important than Monty Williams is important to the Thunder, his wife was important not only to him, but to his children, and to others, like Ryan Anderson. Her love, as well as her loss, was felt in Sacramento and we hope only the best for Coach Williams and his family.
Prediction: The Sacramento Kings surge early against the weary Thunder, only to see them rustle away the lead late in the game. Ben McLemore finds away to convince Coach Karl to play him, and hits a game winning three, just in the nick of time: Kings win. Kings 125, Thunder 122.
For the other side of things, see our friends over at Welcome to Loud City.