Coming off of their second blowout in a row, this time at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, the Kings have no time to wallow in their misery; the new look Boston Celtics are calling and another night of basketball is looming. Kyrie Irving leads a new company of Boston’s Finest, and after an unfortunate and ghastly injury to Gordon Hayward during their opener, the Celtics and coach Brad Stevens find themselves leaning heavily on a group of young and unproven players to fill the gaps and get this Celtics squad back to being Eastern Conference contenders someway, somehow. There are no easy nights in the NBA, so come prepared with your eye protection just in case, Kings fans.
Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Wednesday, November 1st; 4:30 pm PST
Where: TD Garden; Boston, MA.
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Gor-done?: As Kyrie Irving (and the rest of the NBA world) watched in horror at the terrible things a curved object could do to Gordon Hayward’s flat foot, the thought had to have passed through his head, “What the heck do we do now?”. How in the world were the Celtics going to replace a player of Hayward’s caliber at small forward, and just how screwed were their championship runner-up aspirations? Only time will tell with that last question, especially seeing how the Cavaliers have struggled out of the gate, but Coach Brad Stevens has gotten his team to five wins in a row after an 0-2 start by giving the starting shooting guard spot to Jaylen Brown and Hayward’s small forward position to rookie Jayson Tatum, with Aron Baynes now sliding into Tatum’s original role of power forward. The shuffling and sliding has shown just how much Stevens will rely on his young guys for minutes; Brown and Tatum are second and third in minutes for the Celtics at a hair over 33 minutes a game, and only a single minute behind the minutes leader Irving. While returns are still early, the rotations made have had quite the postive result. Seven games in, the Celtics have held opponents to the second lowest scoring in the NBA at 94.9 points per game. The Kings, for reference, have held themselves to 94.1 points per game, so by my flawless bamboozlings, the best defense in the league is the Kings own offense.
If early indications are anything, the Celtics aren’t going away. They may be weakened, they may have a bit tighter rotation to work with, and Kyrie Irving might have to be the focus of a team’s offense unlike anything he’s had to experience since high school; but Coach Stevens and Co. have more than enough to work with the get to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, and more relevantly, to beat the Sacramento Kings on their second night of a back to back.
Matchup of the Game
Flat Earth Theories vs. Fast Fox Facts: This season’s edition of the Matchup of the Game is going away soon; not because the league or the Kings are boring but because of the repetitive nature of how much we collective Kings fans want to see De’Aaron Fox whoop on every point guard in the league. Tonight’s game is no diffent; Fox and Irving should be another wonderful test to see the aptitude of the Kings studly young point guard against an great scoring point guard, and then later a defensive bulldog in Marcus Smart. These Celtics point guards would be polar opposites if Kyrie Irving believed in poles; right now I guess it suffices to say that they’re very, very different. Irving is a scoring focused, lead guard who needs no introduction with probably the best handles of any point guard in the league and scoring 21.7 points per game at 49.4% shooting to go along with 5.7 assists a game. Marcus Smart is a rabid dog locked in a field of cuddly newborn babies. He’s ruthless, the real guts and sinew of the Celtics and does anything andeverything to get his team wins; scoring 11.4 points, tossing 4.4 assists, snatching 4.8 rebounds, and grabbing 1.8 steals all on top of some of the best defense in the league.
De’Aaron Fox is apt to matchup with both of those guys tonight, and if he comes away without a huge case of whiplash, I’ll be impressed. He should be able to score on the porous defense of Kyrie, but I expect him to struggle mightly against the brick wall that Smart is. I expect him to be able to get under Smart’s skin on the defensive end, but might struggle against the quick handles and scoring instincts of Irving. If he can make any headway against the specialist at their specialty, I’ll chalk it up as a huge moral victory and probably be fine with the Kings losing by 75 points. Oh gosh, I just cursed the Kings, didn’t I?
Prediction: Of course I cursed them; REVERSED CURSED THEM! The Celtics were suckers for thinking they could just come in and stomp all over a team that can score about as well and as often as a male black widow spider. After spotting the Celtics the customary 13 point run to start the game, Skal Labissiere comes in and scores 15 straight against Aron Baynes. De’Aaron Fox blows through Kyrie Irving’s defense like a tornado through a screen door all night and sends Marcus Smart back to repeat a grade after thrashing him on the defensive end, one possession after another. Zach Randolph hits three three pointers and promptly retires. The Kings hang his jersey in the rafters for his commitment to improving the Kings.
Kings 95, Celtics 90