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Kings vs Pistons Preview: Beware the Bounce Back Game!

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The Kings are in Detroit to take on a desperate Pistons squad and this time, they’ve got Blake Griffin back and healthy.

Kimani Okearah

The Kings come into Saturday looking to complete their recently palindromic scheduling with a win in the Motor City against the Pistons; a team that they beat in Sacramento before taking on the Hornets, before they took on the Blazers, before they took on the Hornets before they now once again are taking on the Pistons. Thursday’s game against Charlotte even went so far as to feature a Kings squad playing like their mirror image - putting on a masterful first quarter only to bumble and fumble away the final three. Where the Charlotte game for Sacramento seemed be more of a mental lapse on a night where they just didn’t have it, this Pistons team has absolutely upgraded their talent in the nine days since the Kings bushwhacked them at home; Blake Griffin has come off of his small stretch of injuries and is healthy and looking for stats to hunt in Saturday’s contest. The young Kings will have to come collected or this could be a manhandling in the making.

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: Saturday, January 19th, 4:00 PM PST

Where: Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit, MI

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Detroit, Miss-Again: So before I really get in there and shiatsu massage those details you may or may not have heard about the Detroit Pistons, stick an elbow into their issues and knead out their strength’s, I want to put up a disclaimer. A lot of this was researched or written before the end of the Friday night’s victory for Detroit over the Miami Heat and during that game the following things happened: Back up big man and fake Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer didn’t play due to an illness. Big whoop, he’s averaging 11.1 minutes of not having a nickname as cool as Jon Brockman’s a game. Then young and talented Henry Ellison was scratched due to an ankle injury. Then Ish Smith, Detroit’s back-up point (a man who plays only three minutes less a game than the starting PG) pulls his groin only a minute and change into coming into the game. But all this to get to Andre Drummond, the Snorlax of the NBA, the man who can both destroy your rebounding aspirations and nap while running in an arena full of people - he gets a boop on his snoot and had to leave the game only seven minutes in. So if you’re counting at home, and you shouldn’t be, Detroit may have lost two of their three power fowards for tonight’s game (Blake Griffin being the third), their starting center (Zaza Pachulia being the only other on roster) and their back-up point guard. Also, this is a back to back for them after a game that came down to the final minutes. So yeah, any prognosticating or trapgame-baiting has to wait, because we have no idea who is playing in this game. Probably could have titled this Detroit Stars and Roll Players: When Do They Play? Will the Play Tonight?? Let’s Find Out! and been fine.

So pretending like none of that above has happened yet, the Sacramento Kings have once again found themselves in a game that could have dire consequences down the road when it comes time to tally up who’s going to be in the eighth spot in the Western Conference and who has to hear Lonzo Ball talking about making the playoffs next year is a priority for his team that barely missed out. The Kings missed a golden opportunity in Charlotte to steal a game in which the Hornets were actually favored in, and their demeanor and approach to Saturday night’s game will speak volumes to where they are in their microwave-ready maturation process. Fans should expect bumps in the road, and mostly from what I’ve seen across the internet and daily life, they’ve taken losses like Charlotte’s in stride. But this next game back holds far more dramatic tension for fans and players alike. If the Kings come out and execute against a team now bolstered by their star power forward, if they’ve got their heads squarely focused in Detroit and not lingering in Charlotte, then I think whatever dose of growth hormone they’re tossing in the Gatorade during practice is still very much working. But if another loss, another sloppy performance slips out do Kings fans begin to see some small purple crayon writing on the wall that spells out “ N O T T H I S Y E A R” ? These kids have already overshot any reasonable prediction as to how good they’d be this season, is a regression to the mean inevitable?

The Kings last match-up against the Pistons was a masterclass in spreading the scoring out, and attacking from all points. SEVEN Sacramento Kings players scored in double figures on January 10th and the only players that didn’t were Bjelica (7 points), Bogdanovic (6 points) and Justin Jackson (7 points). Literally every single King produced on the offensive side of the ball and while it surprised me that Bogi bombed a bit, players have off night’s and it’s encouraging to see other’s pick up the slack on a night where Sacramento’s Do-Everything guy just couldn’t. Saturday night’s game should feature more of the same. The Kings don’t need a herculean effort from any single player to beat a Detroit team that is markedly closer to the 8th seed than a .500 record. Find ways to contain Blake Griffin’s offensive damage, rent your soul to a demon to keep Andre Drummond off the glass and don’t let a random Luke Kennard or Stanley Johnson go out and double their season averages on you. And if you can’t? What’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like a young team could fall prey to their insecurities, spiral into themselves, tank the second half of the season after shooting slumps all around, the coach leaves for a open position in his home state, their pick jumps to #1 in the draft and Sacramento’s GM get’s fired for a whiz from Philly who is known to clean house and do things his way. That’s the worst that could happen, right?

#Lensface

Episode 94 - Full Court - Kings 112, Pistons 102 - 1.10.2019

Prediction

No one in Detroit wants to play basketball today. It’s cold and boo-boo’s hurt more in the cold. Plus, people realize that they don’t want to be seen in a place named after a third rate pizza joint, no matter how beautiful Grant Napear thinks it is.

Kings: 1, Pistons: 0