Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
The Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings tangle in each teams 8th game of the season tonight, Sacramento without its only star. The results of this game will tell us plenty about Portland's mindset and resolve, if not their immediate future in the 2012-13 season.
The Portland Trail Blazers travel to take on the Sacramento Kings in Sleep Train Arena this evening. The game starts at 7:00 p.m. Pacific and will be televised on CSNNW.
Those familiar with how we do things around here know that our game previews inform you about the opponent so you can gauge what you'll be seeing in the night's contest while the recap analysis covers the Blazers and their accomplishments. This preview is going to break the pattern. Here's all you need to know about the Kings.
1. Like the Blazers they're 2-5, the victories coming against Golden State and Detroit, not exactly league titans.
2. While they've played a few close games--notably both of their wins--they're suffering from an inability to score. Their offensive efficiency is horrible. If you let them run or score easy points in the paint they can produce but if you make them work for their shots the offense will resemble something from The Exorcist: a bunch of heads spinning around randomly then some god-awful shots barfed up all over the court.
3. They're reasonably good offensive rebounders but their defensive rebounding is poor, making it hard for them to sustain success.
4. Unfortunately for the Blazers, one of Sacramento's main downfalls is points in the paint allowed. The Blazers are congenitally incapable of scoring any.
5. Doubly-unfortunately for the Blazers, the Kings are parsimonious with three pointers allowed.
6. Sacramento's goal in life is to play fast enough on offense that you don't notice these flaws. They throw everything against the wall to see what sticks, hoping you'll be content to do the same.
7. Their biggest weapon--top scorer, top rebounder--is DeMarcus Cousins. He's out for this game, serving the second game of a two-game suspension for telling San Antonio Spurs commentator Sean Elliot that he's a loose-lipped homer hack of an analyst after Elliot commented that Cousins' attitude made him beneath notice to serious NBA folks...to which the rest of America replied, "Calm down, you guys. You're both right."
Those points, particularly the last one, make this particular game about the Blazers. This is one of the few times we'll be able to say that this season. It's about the Blazers because they have enough talent to beat the Cousin-free version of the Kings. They might have had enough anyway, but this secures it.
It's also about the Blazers because they have a decision to make. They've just come off two close losses after having gotten clobbered for two more by superior teams. That's four "L's" in a row, a couple hard fought, a couple half-fought. They're going to have to decide what they're doing this season. Are they going to fight for every possible win, gutting out games, seizing the opportunities given to them? Or are they content to roll with a few nice plays, some intermittently-good individual performances, and just kind of take whatever comes out there while biding their time and waiting for a season that matters? Nobody's coming to the rescue here. There's no Brandon Roy or Greg Oden return around the corner. There are no lottery picks or mysterious, supposedly-amazing Euro-League players coming off the bench to try and turn the tide. There are 14 players and 1 schedule. That's all. If these guys don't do it, it won't get done.
Game like this are an afterthought to 90% of the league. For the Blazers they're indicative of mindset, commitment, and ability to turn it around in this early season period. It's up to them. Winning this game would be a decent sign. Losing it would also be a sign, far less than decent.
If the bottom falls out 10% of the way into the year the Blazers will need plenty of forgetfulness, enthusiasm, and maybe a new plan or two to get it back. Things will only get harder as the season progresses. Other teams will be more knowledgeable, better prepared, more motivated. The Blazers themselves will be more fatigued, the already-overburdened starting lineup stretched beyond capacity. Camaraderie and spirit will be eroded by negative feedback in the standings. The Blazers need to bank every win they can against those days, that they have some kind of life raft in the storm.
The big picture, the current context, and the lineups for this particular game all point to the need for a win. Will the Blazers be able to come through? Win or lose, we're going to know something about this team when the game is done.
Sactown Royalty will give you the Sacramento story.
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Portland Trail Blazer tickets for all upcoming games are available from Blazer's Edge sponsor TiqIQ.