The Kings are heading to Cleveland to kick off the eastern part of their road trip, and unlike previous seasons, the Kings aren’t the underdogs this time. With LeBron in Hollywood and Kevin Love injured, the Cavaliers have fallen from grace, posting just a 5-19 record to start the season.
When: Friday, December 7th; 4:30 pm PST
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Another Winnable Game
Much like Tuesday’s bout with the Suns, this is a game the Kings can’t afford to lose if they want to continue to be taken seriously. So far this season they have done a good job of beating the teams they’re supposed to. In fact, as of right now the only team with a below .500 record that has beaten the Kings is the 11-13 Houston Rockets (who are better than their record suggests).
If the Kings stick to their gameplan and don’t relax just because it’s a bad opponent, this should be a very winnable game. The Cavaliers are dead last in terms of defense, and their offense (26th in terms of Offensive Rating) isn’t much better. The team also plays the 3rd slowest pace in the league, meaning the Kings should be able to tire them out quickly. Furthermore, the Cavs take the least amount of threes in the league.
The Cavs aren’t without weapons of course. With no real star until Love comes back, the Cavs share the scoring load. Jordan Clarkson is the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points a game, while rookie guard Collin Sexton is close behind at 14.8 points. Cedi Osman, Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, George Hill and newcomer Alec Burks also average double digits in points.
Cleveland does do one thing well. They are 3rd in the NBA in offensive rebound rate, in large part due to Tristan Thompson, one of the games best rebounders. Sacramento is one of the poorer defensive rebounding teams so will have to make a concerted effort to keep Thompson off the glass. Rookie Marvin Bagley should be back in the rotation after missing the last two games with a lower back strain and should hopefully be able to help in that regard, but the heavy lifting will need to be done by Willie Cauley-Stein.
Sacramento needs to come out and set the tone early like they did in Phoenix. This is not a team that should be able to keep up with the Kings, and winning tonight would guarantee at least a .500 road trip with two games still to go. If this Kings team is serious about making the playoffs, these are the kind of games they can’t afford to drop.
The Iman Shumpert revenge tour begins in earnest, with Shump making those games against the Oklahoma City Thunder look paltry in comparison. George Hill requests a trade to a good team like the Kings after the game.
Kings 116, Cavaliers 104
For the opponent’s perspective, check out Fear the Sword.