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Kings vs. Spurs Preview: Messing With Texas

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The Kings have flown home to beat up on an old and battered Spurs team... who currently own the third best seed in the West.

NBA: Preseason-Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings are back home after going 2-2 during their four games roadtrip and on their doorstep, a grey and black timebomb ready to go off. The Ageless Wonders are in town, and are as good as they’ve ever been. Led by Lamarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, and Rudy Gay while Kawhi Leonard was off downloading a new iOS nursing an injury, the Spurs have given up exactly zero ground in the West. They’re still the third seed West, still coached by arguable the greatest coach in NBA history, and... they’re still resting players against the Kings! So you’re saying there’s a chance!

(Oh, and speaking of injury, our Fox is outta the duckhouse for a good stretch of time with a torn quad. How’s that for holiday cheer???)

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: Saturday, December 23rd; 7:00 pm PST

Where: Golden 1 Center; Sacramento, CA

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KTHK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Sizing Up the Spurs: When discussing this iteration of the Spurs, especially in the context of the game Saturday night, you’re gonna have to temper your expectations on both ends of the emotional spectrum for two reasons: Gregg Popovich loves sitting players when they play the Kings, and any and all stats and habits this season have basically been accumulated without the Spurs star, Kawhi Leonard. The team the Kings face tonight might not be anything like what wins the Spurs games on any other night. In fact, right out of the gate: Pau Gasol and Danny Green aren’t playing tonight. Let’s just talk about the essence of the Spurs, how the the stats read on the ageless, multi-headed, shape-shifting beast that’s sitting in the visitor's locker room tonight.

The Spurs hold teams to the lowest points per game in the league: teams average 98 points a game against San Antonio, and for all that effort they get the second best defensive rating in the league. They also score the 6th least points in the NBA at 100.8 a contest, and they run at the second slowest pace in the NBA. We’re heading into classic horror movie monster territory here: no matter how fast our group of 20-something’s try to out run the beast, or out shoot the beast, it continues its methodical pursuit with a cold certainty of the outcome. The Spurs only shoot 45.7% from the field (14th in the NBA), 36% from three (17th in the NBA) and 49.8% (17th in the NBA) and take the 9th most field goals, 24th most threes and 5th most two pointers. They feel fairly pedestrian in most of their offensive stats, though they are the 6th best offensive rebounding team and 11th best in the NBA in assists. Like all great movie monsters, they feel almost beatable. Almost.

The Spurs hold teams to the 10th lowest field goal shooting in the NBA at 45%, and again I remind you, Kawhi Leonard has played all of 4 games for them. Teams shoot 35.1% from deep and 49.9% from inside the arc against the Spurs, the 7th and 10th lowest percentages respectively. They’re only 20th in steals, but 2nd in the entire league in blocks... with Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge as their starting bigs. Six guys who play meaningful minutes for the Spurs average between .7 and 1.2 blocks per game. All those blocks have to mean fouls on attempted swats right? Nope, this ancient beast has been around long enough to make those mistakes; the Spurs as a team foul the third least in the NBA. I guess its also a good thing that the Kings are allergic to getting to the line, right?

Don me now my Gay apparel for a second here (shoot, did I really never buy Rudy’s jersey when he was with us??) I wanted to give you a little check in with our former small forward of the future: Rudy’s averaging 12 points for the Spurs, second most on the team, while playing 23.3 minutes a contest. He’s shooting 48.4% from the field, grabbing 5 rebounds to boot, all after coming back early from a torn Achilles. He was divisive during his tenure in Sacramento, and I already said my heart felt good bye to him the day he tore his Achilles, but... someone out there has gotta be glad he’s on the Spurs and producing. So that little update is for you, friend.

Prediction: The Kings face off against the older versions of themselves.

Frank Mason, Tony Parker. Bogi, Manu. Skal, Aldridge. Justin Jackson, Danny Green. George Hill, George Hill. Heck, even Tim Duncan is sitting in the seats with an empty stare at Harry Giles sitting on the bench like he knows him.

The Stud Muffin is the man tonight, and with old miserly Tony Parker having to play defense on Frank, time and time again he finds himself open for a jumper. After his 30th point, Jerry Reynolds exclaims “with a name like Mason, you don’t ever see him with too many bricks, now do ya?”

Jerry Reynolds wins an Oscar for that line in January, and the Kings beat the Spurs.

Kings: 97, Spurs: 94