Akis said it best last night: nothing comes easy for these Kings. Every single game is a struggle to come back or hold the lead, and yet, with one game left before the All-Star Break, the Kings are a game and a half back of the eight seed and have strung together four wins in a row, all in nail-biting, hair pulling fashion. The road through the fifth win lands the Kings in Oakland, where they’ll have to face a seemingly impossible climb to topple the Warriors for the second game this season, this time on the road and with only one healthy ball handler. Wednesday night’s game won’t see the Kings going up against a Warriors team looking past them in the schedule; Having been waxed by 22 points in Denver on Monday, the Warriors are going to be playing with an edge. Here goes nothing, right?
Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Wednesday, February 15th; 7:30 pm PST
Where: Oracle Arena, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
The first thing the Kings will be forced to do if they want a chance in this game is hit from distance. The Nuggets on Monday night tied an NBA record for threes made in a game with 24 long bombs against the best rated three point defense in the league, and while the Kings aren’t going to have to splash quite that many, they’re going to have to improve on their output from their overtime win on February 4th. In a game in which the starters for the Warriors hit all 15 of the team’s threes, the Kings still managed to eek out the victory with seven three point makes, and a grand total of one from a starter. This won’t fly if the Kings are on going to pull off another stunner on the road.
With Zaza Pachulia still out with a strained rotator cuff, the Warriors are going to have to throw out a buffet of mediocrity to handle DeMarcus Cousins. Javale McGee, Kevon Looney, David West and Company are going to have to handle Boogie for every single second that Draymond Green isn’t trying to body him. The Warriors are stuck with Boogie: handle him one on one and let him score from everywhere, but double team him and he’s kicking it out to his teammates who are currently the 12th best three point shooting squad in the league at 36.4%. This is my second key; get the ball to Boogie and get moving. Before you march on StR Headquarters with pitchforks because I suggested to get DeMarcus the ball more, I understand that DeMarcus Cousins has a Usage Rate higher than every player in the league save for Russell Westbrook. It’s high. High high. But in a game with one healthy point guard, DeMarcus will be the second best facilitator on the floor for the Kings. Allow him to force the Warriors to make the choice: Boogie beating up their big guys or the Kings shooter’s taking in from deep.
This game won’t be close if it also isn’t chippy and emotional, because that’s how the Warriors play and that’s how the Kings best player is. The Warriors come into each game with enough perceived chips on their shoulder to put Frito-Lay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and with a loss to the Kings in overtime, and the egg they laid in Denver already hanging over them, they’ll be out for blood. Every snip at the refs, for every moment they’re jumping up and down, wide-eyed asking referee about what they did or didn’t do, the Warriors will be circling. They feed on the drama of the game and the Kings will have to decide: are they going to play that game or just play the game. DeMarcus is already on thin ice with another technical meaning a suspension, so he’s going to have to play fairly subdued. He’s going to be on the line most of the night, and he’s going to have to be damn near perfect if the Kings are going to stay close. Darren Collison and Ben McLemore are going to have to keep the pressure from forcing them into costly turnovers. Keeping their cool, staying out of the mind games, moving on to the next possession and not decking a Warrior every time they celebrate some mundane basketball event: that’s a winning strategy, baby.
Tonight’s game hinges on the ability of the Kings to hit their big guy with more touches, hitting their three points and not hitting
Team Punchable Faces The Warriors. Last game against the Warriors was probably a fluke, and we’ll probably lose this one by 20+ so the Warriors can go into the All-Star break not thinking about how they already have as many losses as all of last year, but in a phrase that would make Lloyd Christmas proud, I’m saying there’s a chance!
Terrified of the monster inside of him that bellowed from his depths for the first time on February 4th, Steve Kerr takes a sick day. Mike Brown being Mike Brown looks his roster over and seeing neither LeBron nor Kobe on it, decides to rest his starters because ain’t no way you’re beating a team with DeMarcus Cousins by throwing JaVale McGee out there.
Kings: 117, Warriors: 113