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Kings vs Celtics Preview: Return of the Pizza Guy

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The Kings will somehow have to find a way to slow down Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics without DeMarcus Cousins.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics
Return of the Pizza Guy was a late cut for the title of J.R.R. Tolkien’s final entry into the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A shame really.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no rest for the weary. After losing to the Chicago Bulls in spectacular fashion on Monday, the Kings now have to face a Boston Celtics team riding a seven game win streak and hot on the Cavaliers’ heels for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ll also have to do it without DeMarcus Cousins, as he picked up his 16th technical with 1.1 seconds left against the Bulls, triggering an automatic suspension.

It’ll take a great team effort to win this one, but the outlook right now is grim.

When: Wednesday, February 8th, 7:30 pm PST

Where: Golden 1 Center, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM

The King of the Fourth

While the decision to not retain Isaiah Thomas was unquestionably bad for the Sacramento Kings, it has been nothing but great for Isaiah Thomas. Thomas has become the face of the franchise for the Boston Celtics and is set to make his second straight All-Star appearance and has legitimately thrust his name into the MVP conversation. Thomas is second in the entire NBA in scoring at 29.9 points a game and he’s scoring more efficiently than ever with career high FG% of .469 and career high 3P% of .385. Thomas also leads the NBA in fourth quarter scoring, earning himself the nickname “the King of the Fourth”. While Boston is a much better team defensively with him off the court (+11.6 points per 100 possessions according to Basketball-reference), his offensive prowess has grown so much that it hardly matters. Over Boston’s seven game win streak, I.T. has averaged 35.3 points on 52% shooting to go with 7.3 assists. If the Kings can’t find a way to slow Isaiah down, they’ll be in for a hurting. The best strategy for the Kings is to stay aggressive by attacking him on the other side of the floor, whether it’s Ty Lawson or Darren Collison.

The Boogie Sized Hole

Already without Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi, and Garrett Temple, the Kings lost the biggest part of their team in DeMarcus Cousins thanks to his antics against the Chicago Bulls that resulted in him picking up his 15th and 16th technical fouls. Cousins has only missed one game all season so far, and that game ended up being a 34 point drubbing at the hands of the Houston. Darren Collison is the Kings highest active scorer at 13.1 points a game, and he and Ty Lawson will likely be the focal points of Sacramento’s offensive attack tonight. I also expect Arron Afflalo will get more opportunity to be featured in the offense.

And for goodness sake, free Malachi Richardson and let him try to get some seasoning against Boston’s athletic guards. That’s a good test for him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere get some time on the court either if this game gets out of hand.

Prediction

The Kings starting lineup introduction goes normally up until it’s time to announce who’s starting in Cousins’ place. Scott Moak’s thunderous voice comes over the P.A. system: “And at Power Forward, 6’9 out of the University of Missouri... Aleeeeeeeeeeeex Oriaaaaaaaaaaaakhiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!”

Kings proceed to lose by 50 and Matt Barnes manages to play 48 minutes even though he wasn’t in the starting lineup.