[Reminder: Tonight's game is on NBA TV and KGW. It will not be on League Pass! Tip-off is 7pm]
With Dave enjoying a few days off, the Blazers/Kings Gameday Preview duties have fallen upon yours truly. Total downgrade. But don't worry, since the Blazers play the Kings three times this month, he'll have a real preview soon enough. Let's be honest, though. Everything you really need to know about this game can be summed up in one sentence:
The Blazers should win this game.
I know, I know, if you listen to Mike Barrett, the first home game after a long road trip is really the last game of said trip, as the players recover from a grueling trek across multiple time zones. But, the Blazers won't be able to try that excuse with me. Here's why:
1. The Blazers had two full days off after their last road game. They've had some time to sleep in their own beds, and have worked through a few light practices.
2. The Kings played last night at home. In fact, they won, pulling away late to hold off the similarly-woeful Orlando Magic. That means they won't be particularly inspired tonight. They'll arrive in Portland late, and will simply try to steal one.
3. Even on a normal night, the Kings aren't that good. And not-good teams tend to stink on the road. We have some experience in that area.
But, let's be fair, there are some mitigating factors.
1. Nicolas Batum is hurt. As of this writing, his status is still unknown, but even if he plays, he probably will be sub-100%. After shootaround Saturday, he was called a game time decision.
Hmmm. That's it. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have made "factors" plural.
The Kings have all kinds of problems right now. They don't rebound well. They don't pass well. They don't shoot a lot of free throws, but they give up lots. They have a bunch of young players should make The Leap, but have not done so. Former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans is the poster child for not making The Leap. That 6-12 record isn't a fluke or a mirage.
On the bright side for the Kings, they won't turn over the ball a lot. And at age 22, DeMarcus Cousins is is showing beast potential, averaging nearly a double-double. Plus, while Evans hasn't become the All-Star Sacramento fans hoped for, he's still giving solid contributions nightly. [Note: Tyreke has missed three of the last four games due to injury; his status tonight is unknown]
Can the Kings win this game? After last week's Blazer games in Detroit and Washington DC, do you really need to ask? However, if the Blazers take their opponent seriously, stay aggressive, and lock down the boards, this is their game to lose.
Now, it's your turn:
1. What do you think is the key for a Blazer victory?
2. Who's tonight's X-Factor, for either team?
3. What do you fear about playing the Sacramento Kings?
Sactown Royalty will do a much better job of recapping their team than I did.
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Enjoy the game, and I'll have a mini version of what would normally be Dave's analysis later tonight. -- Tim (firstname.lastname@example.org)