New Year, New Team! New Year, New Team! The Kings are home on Wednesday night after walking out of Denver last night with a win against a young, tired challenger for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, and are now facing a Miami Heat team who have been deathly allergic to winning games of late. Losers in eight of their last nine and with injuries to every important piece of their team, the Heat come into Sacramento sporting just 10 victories over the course of the season, with one of those wins being an extremely disappointing game from the Kings early this season. The Kings are heading towards a rough stretch in their schedule, so games like this are a must for teams with high aspirations and absolutely no room for error. But hey, the Kings are undefeated in 2017 so, what could go wrong, right?
Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Wednesday, January 4th, 7:30 pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Kings Focus: Much like the Denver Nuggets of Tuesday night’s game, the Miami Heat are team that scores by committee, with eight players averaging double figures, but none of them averaging over 18 points per game. With second leading scorer Hassan Whiteside out of Wednesday night’s game, as well as young, talented small forward Justice Winslow, the Heat are going to be looking for anyone that can put a ball in or around the hoop, and yes, the sound you heard was Dion Waiter’s hand raising quick enough to break the sound barrier, but he’s still questionable tonight coming off of a torn groin and has not played a minute of basketball since November. The Kings catching breaks like this is usually the tell-tale sign that something bad is upon them, but with Udonis Haslem, Willie Reed, Derrick Williams and James Johnson being the only four forwards that are playable on the roster right now, the Kings should see the ball move toward DeMarcus early and often. Any of those guys getting into foul trouble would spell trouble for the Heat, and could be a 60 point game for Boogie. Have I mentioned yet that the Heat give up the most two point shots in the league? Or that they’re 21st in defending the paint, and 24th in the league in fouls? If DeMarcus wants 50+, it’s sitting there for him tonight.
Defensively, the Kings would do themselves a favor by sticking to shooters on the three point line. The Denver Nuggets had just about any shot they could stomach from the three point line Tuesday night, and even with tired legs and short rest, they were allowed to take 38 three pointers and make 18 of them. While the Heat are 23rd in the league in three point percentage at 34.4%, the Kings can’t afford to play around with a guard heavy team, desperate and pushing hard for a victory, and expect them to lie down. While the Heat are the second lowest scoring team in the league at 98.2 points per game and play at the 7th slowest pace, I would expect a game played quicker than that tonight, just out of necessity. The current franchise centerpiece, Hassan Whiteside, won’t be lumbering up and down the floor, and with James Johnson and Derrick Williams really being small forward/power forward tweeners, they might try to pick up the pace and catch the Kings off guard and tired after a game the previous night.
Overall, the Kings really just need to play their game and not let any one random player go and score well above his average. The Heat are a 10-26 team for a reason, and they have players injured every which way that you can be injured. The best player on their team is out. Some of their best role players are out, or coming off of injuries. Get the remnants of their front court in foul trouble early and watch DeMarcus post up on a Pepsi Machine the rest of the night. This is where I might usually try to hint at this being a trap game, but that would be like saying walking up to a rotisserie chicken is a dangerous act because it’s a hurt, wild animal. The Kings sport a record of 15-19, and haven’t exactly lit the world on fire, but not taking care of business tonight would and should be a major blow to their playoff aspirations.
Prediction: The Kings will come out early and get a stranglehold on this game from the get go, with DeMarcus scoring 14+ points in the first quarter and the team pushing for 30 points in the quarter. Derrick Williams will be dispensing his usual trash Coke imitation soda in the stands for most of the first half, but will have to actually play minutes after the inevitable foul trouble to Udonis Haslem and Willie Reed. In the second half, the Kings will push this game off the edge and we’ll finally get a look at some extended minutes for Malachi Richardson in the fourth quarter.
Kings: 116, Heat: 100