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Kings vs. Mavericks Preview: Luka-Bagley, Here We Go Again

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The Kings take on the Mavericks for the second time in five days.

Kimani Okearah

Five days ago, the Sacramento Kings handled the Dallas Mavericks at the Golden 1 Center behind strong performances from several key players. Willie Cauley-Stein snagged a career-high 18 rebounds, Marvin Bagley scored 22 points, grabbed 12 boards of his own, and blocked three Dallas shots, and Buddy Hield was on fire from deep, hitting 7 long-balls on his way to a game-high 29 points. Sacramento’s defense also stifled Rookie of the Year favorite Luka Doncic, holding the young stud to just 13 points on 19 shot attempts. The Mavericks will try to avenge their loss tonight at home, and the Kings must stay focused for the entire 48 minutes against an inferior foe.

When: Tuesday, March 26th, 5:30 PM PST

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Eliminating Luka’s attacks at the rim was at the center of Sacramento’s victory last week, and the same strategy will likely dictate whether or not the Kings walk away with a ‘W’ on Tuesday evening. The Matador uses his combination of size, shooting, and passing ability to run the Dallas offense, and shutting down his lane penetration will force him into jump shots, exactly what the Kings want. Luka jacks up 5.2 pull-up three-pointers per game, the fourth-highest mark in the league, but he makes just 32% of those attempts, and every one of those shots should be considered a victory for the Sacramento defense.

Doncic is also surrounded by a coterie of average role players, end-of-bench fillers, and a fun, but ultimately ineffective NBA legend. Getting the ball out of his hands will scramble the Mavericks’ offensive game plan and force non-contributors to contribute without the assistance of their star player. Isolation possessions for players like Justin Jackson and Jalen Brunson, even if they score the occasional bucket, will signal a successful defensive stand.

Offensively, the Kings must focus on pushing the ball whenever possible. The Dallas roster is mostly void of highly athletic, speedy players, as evidenced by their fifth-slowest pace since the trade deadline, and the quickness De’Aaron Fox and the rest of the team should take advantage of that discrepancy in transition. On the 21st, Buddy Hield (11 points) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (7 points) both individually outscored the entire Mavericks in fast break points, as Dallas lost the overall battle 31-6. Getting out in the open court after misses will be priority number one this evening.

When the game moves into the half-court, Marvin Bagley should be deployed as the destroyer of the Dallas defense. He absolutely roasted every big body that the Mavericks threw in his path last week, scoring 22 points on 50% shooting from the field, and he was especially effective against the Dallas starting bigs. When guarded by Dwight Powell, the rookie big man focused on the interior, scoring 11 points on 4/7 field goal attempts, while Bagley worked his outside game when faced with the slower Maxi Kleber, nailing 2/3 three-pointers in 16 possessions.

The Kings are vastly more talented than the stripped down Mavericks, and even a mediocre performance will likely overwhelm the second-worst team in the league since the trade deadline. Eliminating Luka Doncic drives, pushing the ball at every opportunity, and unleashing Marvin Bagley’s inside scoring should grant Sacramento their 37th win of the season.

Prediction

Luka Doncic turns in a better shooting performance than he did at the Golden 1 Center, but the combination of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley once again trumps the individual contributions of Doncic.

Kings 116, Mavericks 103