After a weekend double-header matchup against the the Portland Trailblazers led to an unexpected win and a completely expected letdown follow up performance, the Kings are back home with new lineups and at least some semblance of confidence as they ready to take on whatever the Denver Nuggets have to throw at them. Monday night gives the Kings an opportunity to move to 4-3 when in the warm embrace of their home city, but to do so, the Kings are gonna have to find a way to do better than their last performance against the Nuggets; a 17 point stinker that was laid on the second night of a back to back, in Denver, and the third game of the season. Mind you, that beatdown in Denver featured budding star Nikola Jokic scoring zero points in a game that never felt close. Here’s to repeat performances for some and defying (low) expectations for others! Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Monday, November 20th; 7:00 pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center; Sacramento, CA
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Nuggets by the Numbers: Monday night’s contest against the Denver Nuggets is going to be an up hill climb. One might say a mile high cl- no, actually no one would say that, the game’s not even in Denver. The Nuggets are a tough matchup for the Kings. They’re a fantastic rebounding team, and that in itself spells trouble is looming in Sacramento for a team that is almost allergic to grabbing boards. 10th in the league in total rebounds, the Nuggets excel on the offensive glass, where they are second in the NBA, grabbing 11.8 a game. In that October 21st game, the Nuggets grabbed 18 offensive boards. The Kings are 28th in the league in defensive rebounds, will struggle again tonight and for good reason; their two leaders in that category are Kosta Koufos (4.6 a game) and Cauley-Stein (4.3 a game) are relegated to bench roles in this new lineup, Zach Randolph (4.0 a game) has seen an average of 17.5 minutes over the course of the lineup change and their 4th leading defensive rebounder this season is shooting guard Buddy Hield (3.4 a game) who might very well sit this game with a sprained ankle.
The other point against tonight being a competitive game is that the Nuggets are an all around good shooting team. They’re 8th in three point percentage at 37.7% a game, 11th in two point percentage at 51.1% and 10th overall in field goal percentage at 46.7%. On top of this, they take a good many number of shots in a given game, 10th in field goal attempts, 11th in 2 point attempts and 16th in three point attempts. Golden 1 Center is going to be a gun range on Monday night with all these shots popping off, and if the Kings don’t come out ready to guard a team with essentially 5 guys playing major minutes and shooting over 50% from the field, this game could be over at the end of the first.
The Nuggets are a team that is either hot or cold, and when they aren’t hitting their shots, it’s blow out city. Taking a look at their last four games, they’ve beaten Orlando by 18 (scoring 125 pts), lost by 17 to Portland (scoring 82 points), beat New Orleans by 32 (scoring 146 points), and lost to the Lakers by 18 (scoring 109 and giving up 127 points). If the pattern follows suit, the Kings are about to give up 167 points and lose by 46, so at least in that scenario Sacramento gets their offense going a bit! The Nuggets are a collection of scoring machines, but even machines have a monkey wrench tossed in from time to time. The Kings will need another big performance from the Willie/Kosta Tandem. Skal is going to need to remember that he’s not in Kentucky anymore, and George Hill, De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason all must have good, borderline great performances on both ends of the floor. In Sacramento, anything is possible, right?
(Ma)son of a Gun: Willie Cauley-Stein absolutely deserves a shoutout for his recent play, but thankfully for me, Akis and Section already wrote him in as their Player of the Week, so I get to give some love to Frank Mason. Mason’s patience rewarded him this week when Dave Joerger mercifully switched up the lineups and started by De’Aaron Fox and George Hill together, leaving that backup spot for Mason to perform, and perform he has. While his stats in the win over Portland don’t necessarily stand out to the eye (1-6 shooting, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 points) Frank was a team high +11 in +/- and was kept on the floor during some critical junctures in a game where neither team could get more than a couple of points ahead. For a second round rookie point guard going up against Damian Lillard for a lot of his 21 crucial minutes, Frank did a great job getting the team into his sets and rewarding Dave Joerger for trusting him to be out there. In the loss the following night, Mason scored 13 points, had 2 rebounds and 2 assists while again being a floor general. Props to Frank for staying ready for when his number was called and for performing well in what might be the start of regular minutes for him at the backup point guard spot.
Prediction: The Kings score 120 points tonight. Win by 10. The Earth collapses into a singularity. We’re all finally at peace.
Kings: 120, Nuggets: 110.