With another loss at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder that dropped the Sacramento Kings to four games out of the eighth seed, 10 games south of .500 and to a record of 24-34, the Kings really should be considered out of the race for the playoffs and yet, after the Cavaliers game on the 9th of March, The Kings will face only four teams with winning records the rest of the way. Do they have a shot? Yes. Is it a good one? Well, no, considering the way the Kings played through the majority of February. But the Kings are in March now! They're going to pull together and figure this thing out, starting Wednesday night against the ... well, the 5th seed Memphis Grizzlies.
While the Kings do face the Grizzlies on the road, and are also currently losers of three in a row, the Grizzlies aren't nearly as formidable as they've been in recent years and are now without franchise cornerstone, Marc Gasol. Sacramento's Suicide Squad versus the self proclaimed Grizzlies' Goon Squad in a battle for who can out "squad" the other squad: why wouldn't a basketball fan tune in? This game can be seen on CSN-CA, heard on KHTK 1140 and starts at 5pm. Let's talk Kings basketball.
Memphis Grizzlies by the Numbers:
While some of the Memphis Grizzlies raw statistics may be a bit underwhelming when it comes to trying to figure out the quality of basketball they play, its unmistakable that the Grizzlies are a very, very good basketball team. On the offensive end, they aren't noteworthy. They've never been noteworthy, and yet recent history has shown that they continue to win games, regardless of what the current pundits or basketball trends may seem say. Memphis scores just under 100 points a game, 24th in the league league in that category, and are tied for the third lowest pace in the NBA. (Quick side note; the two teams that play a slower pace? Cleveland and Utah; both playoff teams. The team they're tied with? Miami Heat; playoff team. In fact, 7 out of the 8 lowest in terms of pace are. Just saying.) Memphis is 26th in field goals and three pointers made, and 27th in field goals and three pointers attempted. They are 13th in two pointers attempted and 10th in two pointers made, however, they're 24th in the league in two point percentage. They're also an abysmal rebounding team; 21st in offensive rebounds, 30th in defensive rebounds and 30th in total rebounds. Folks, this the offense of the fifth seed in the Western Conference in 2016. If the thought comes through that you have to have a great offense to make the playoffs, drown it out with the la-la-la that is the Memphis Grizzlies offensive statistics.
On the defensive side of the ball, it's a different story. Memphis is the very best in the league in opponents' field goal attempts, field goals converted, two point attempts and two pointers made. They're 13th in opponents' field goal percentage and 16th in two point percentage. They're fourth in the league in steals, sixth in the league in opponent turnovers and keep opponents from scoring under 100 points a game; good for sixth in the league. They do however, have an Achilles heel and one that is all too familiar to the Kings: they allow their opponents to take and make a lot of threes. The Grizzlies are 26th in the league in opponents three pointers made, are 28th in three pointers attempted and teams that play them hit from deep at an average of 36%. Memphis also has a tendency to foul quite a bit, where they are 24th in the league at opponents free throws attempts. If the Kings can come out and set the games pace to their liking, can get a Memphis team without Marc Gasol or back-up center Brandan Wright into foul trouble, and can hit the three point attempts that they will be given, Memphis would be in great danger of giving this game away. If the Kings let the Grizzlies set the tempo and allow Memphis second shot opportunities, they Kings will be on their way to 4 losses in a row.
Odds and Ends:
This game sees the return of Ryan "He Tipped It!" Hollins, who played last season for the Sacramento Kings, and definitely, absolutely, undeniably tipped the ball in an out of bounds pass that led to a crushing buzzer beating layup in a loss to the team now paying him for his services. I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
This game also sees the return of long time Rick Adelman assistant, and (hopefully) someday head coach, Elston Turner. Coaching in Sacramento from the 2000-2001 season till the '05-'06 season, Turner has always seemed to come up in preliminary coaching searches, but has never yet gotten the big job. Welcome back, Coach Turner!
Prediction: The Kings will come together going all-in with one last attempt to right the ship. Grizzlies defense gives Omri, Ben and Marco the green light to take threes, and DeMarcus' competitive fire will just add gasoline to the barns burning all over Tennessee: Kings 115, Grizzlies 107.
For the other side of the things, see Grizzly Bear Blues.