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Game 13 Preview: Kings vs. Blazers

A Look at the Kings

The Kings are 4-8 on the young season, having beaten only one quality team, the Detroit Pistons.  The reasons for their poor start are three:  lousy defense, lousy rebounding, lousy attendance.  Let's start with the positives though, because they're easier.  Sacramento is a good offensive team, led by prolific shooter Kevin Martin.  The wiry Martin is among the NBA leaders in scoring, averaging nearly 26 points per game while shooting 43% from the field and 39% from the three-point line.  He doesn't look all that intimidating, but that's little consolation when he toasts you extra-crispy.  He's the main reason the Kings average 100 per game.  Scoring a quarter of your team's points is nothing to sneeze at.  The second massively bright spot was going to be Ron Artest.  He's averaging near 24 points, shooting over 55%, and grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game in addition to being a good defender.  However after serving a long suspension to start the season he's now taking a break to help his daughter through some medical issues.  There's no official word on whether he'll return tonight but my guess is no.  The Kings are 2-6 without him, and I guess that just about ends the positive section.

Sacramento is allowing opponents to shoot 47.6% from the field this year and giving up 106 points per game.  The list of their defenders reads maybe one-and-a-half players long.  The list of their interior defenders is blank.  They're getting pounded on the boards as well.  (Is this sounding at all familiar, Blazer fans?)  They're allowing opponents to shoot 37% from the three-point arc.  They lead in zero defensive categories.  In fact the only thing they're doing better than the enemy so far is drawing and hitting foul shots.  That's simply not enough to make up for a deficit of 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 30 field goal percentage point per game.  That's why they're hanging around in -6.0 ppg land.  Well, that and no Artest or Bibby.

On the other hand I could copy and paste just about everything I've written above and send it over to Ziller at SactownRoyalty.com and he'd have a reasonable preview of the Blazers as well.  (We're shooting better than our opponents and getting a few more blocks...neener!)  So it should be an interesting game.

What I'd Like to See

  1.  If we come out with the same kind of emotion and energy we displayed against New Jersey on Wednesday night we'll walk away with this game. However the last time we lost a game we thought we should have won it send us into an emotional tailspin during which the entire team treated us to their best impression of Eeyore on valium.  When two teams are roughly equal in their (in)competence the winner is usually the team that wants it more.  Step one tonight is to shake off Wednesday and come out blazing.
  2.  Who's going to stop Kevin Martin?  Nobody on this team.  On the other hand who's going to stop Brandon Roy and Jarrett Jack?  This is one of the few teams where you can say our guards can brutalize theirs just as badly as theirs hurt ours.  The Kings will not stop you in the paint.  There might as well be a "Please Do Not Stand Past the Line When Offense Is in Motion" sign painted around the key.  If we do not take advantage we are fools.
  3.  Lamarcus Aldridge should meet token resistance inside, Martell Webster token resistance outside.  When our guards are tired of slashing let LMA work against single coverage.   If they double then work the ball around to Martell for a three against the scrambling defense.  Roy and Jack should get us to the doorway, Lamarcus and Martell need to take us through.
  4.  Speaking of dishing, if any Sacramento guys are going to kill us it's going to be because they're getting easy looks off the pass.  Brad Miller can throw the ball as well as any center.  There's no need to double team him.  Just make sure he doesn't get open jumpers and you'll be fine.  Also watch out for guys like John Salmons and Quincy Douby.  If you let them break you down by driving or outrunning you down the court they can catch fire.  All of this will be prevented if you don't let the ball or people move freely for them.  Kevin Martin will not beat you alone.  Contest his teammates, win the game.  Everybody gets back on defense, everybody stays in front of their man, nobody gets hurt.
  5.  Whoever loses the rebounding battle tonight gets to wear a "Weenie of the Week" sign around their necks.
That's it really.  If you need something more than that to beat this team right now you're doing something seriously wrong.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)