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Kings vs. Trail Blazers Preview: Stopping Nurkic

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Somebody should guard that guy.

Stop this man.
Kimani Okearah

The Sacramento Kings enter tonight’s home contest against the Portland Trail Blazers riding a bit of a hot streak. The Kings have won 2-straight, and 3 of their last 4 since the schedule lightened up to incorporate some non-Western Conference powerhouses. That has been nice.

The Portland Trail Blazers might not be one of those said powerhouses, but they’re right on the line. The Blazers are a good playoff tested squad and the Kings are going to have to bring their A-game tonight if they want to walk away with a win. Let’s get into it.

Who, What, Where, When

Who: Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers

When: 7:00 PM PT / 10:00 PM ET

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

SEGABABA Problems

The Kings have found themselves on the unfortunate end of the SEGABABA (Second Game of a Back to Back) on many occasions this season, but tonight, for the third game in a row, they’re on the receiving end of a great gift from the SEGABABA gods. The Trail Blazers are coming into Sacramento after playing a tight 116-113 loss in Denver Sunday night. From Denver’s high altitude to Sacramento’s staggering pace is not a pleasant back-to-back set. It goes without saying, but the Kings need to take advantage of whatever tired legs Portland may have.

Who is going to stop Jusuf Nurkic?

The Blazers already have one win over the Kings this season thanks to a huge 24 point, 5 block, 5 steal, 7 assist, 23 rebound performance by Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic’s 5x5 stat line is one of the more absurd nights any NBA player has had this season, and it happened under the Kings’ watch. It can’t happen again, but who is going to make sure it doesn’t?

Willie Cauley-Stein can play better than he did in their first meeting, but the Kings have more options now than they did in their 113-108 overtime loss back on January 1.

Marvin Bagley is back. Harry Giles has somewhat cemented a real role in Dave Joerger’s rotation. If the Kings are going to stop Nurkic and keep the Trail Blazers from dominating the paint again, it’s going to take a real group effort from the frontcourt.

Crunch Time Dame

What Jusuf Nurkic started in the Kings’ first matchup with Portland this season, Damian Lillard very much finished with big shot after big shot. It was a good test for De’Aaron Fox, and if the Kings are going to pull out a win tonight, it’s a test he’ll likely get another crack at tonight. When the game gets tight, the ball is going to Lillard, and putting Fox in another crunch time matchup with one of the better finishers in the NBA is just invaluable experience.

#Lensface

Previously on #Lensface, the Kings ran out of juice in OT as Jusuf Nurkic cleaned up with a 5x5 on the Kings home-court. Bonus collapses against the Nuggets and Warriors included - 3 for 1!

Prediction:

Kings 114, Blazers 107.

PS. GO PISTONS!
(playoff seeding implications - it’s wonderful to be concerned about that)!