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Game 66 Preview: Blazers vs. Kings

This is bound to be an interesting game tonight.  On the one hand we have a few things going for us.  The Kings are 28-35.  We've played well on this road trip (3-1), beating all three under-.500 teams.  Sacramento is fractured in lineup and spirit both, having lost 7-9 and resorting to the infamous "team meeting" to collect their last win--barely--against the L*kers.  On the other hand they have matchups that give us trouble, starting with forward Ron Artest who single-handedly man-handled us last month in the Kings' victory in Portland.  Point guard Beno Udrih has scored 25 in two out of the last three games and the one game he didn't do that backcourt mate Kevin Martin scored 48.  Shutting down opposing guards isn't really our strong suit.  They have Brad Miller back, whose shooting game is always a challenge for us. The Kings did notch that win against L.A. on the road.  Plus we all know from watching "Hang Time" what their coach can do with a bunch of loveable losers who fight amongst themselves like adolescents.  Why, next to Mr. Cooper he's the bestest loosely-NBA-affiliated coach there ever was!

The hallmark of the Kings' attack lately has been offense.  Since the Mike Bibby trade they've averaged nearly 108 ppg.  Unfortunately for them they've also given up 111.6 ppg in that same stretch.  They're not built for rebounding and they're not built to stop anyone plus their main guys commit a fair amount of turnovers.  Their basically a colander.  On the other hand we're fairly poor at exploiting those exact weaknesses, what with our jump-shooting, intermittent rebounding, and lack of exploitive defense ourselves.  A casual glance at the comparative lineups and styles of play shows why Artest has an easy time standing out in this matchup:  he's a Cuisinart in a field of Peeps.  It's like somebody let that guy from "No Country for Old Men" loose on the cast of Harry Potter.  Emasculus Totalis!  Emasculus Totalis!!!  Oh...Barnaby's Baked Fudge Pies!  It isn't working, Harry! 

What I'd Like to See

  1.  Seeing as how they're passing them out, how about some rebounds?  More than anything else, one-and-done is our key to effective defense.
  2.  How about not settling for long shots the whole game either?  Once again we're facing a team that couldn't block a shot from Cindy Lou Who even if she were in handcuffs.  (Shut up...don't say it.)  So what's the point of shooting over the top?  Over the top of WHAT?  Please...some points in the paint?
  3.  Everybody on this team not named Mikki Moore can shoot.  You better be able to stay close to people, which means you better be prepared to recover very quickly and/or rotate when you have to double down low.  Any form of laziness on defense will result in the ball going through the twine.  This is not the same as the other teams we've played on this trip.  Come out with that Minnesota effort and you'll be down 20 at the half.
  4.  Let's make their guards play some defense.  I want to see a cutting, driving, shooting backcourt tonight.  Udrih and Martin don't look so imposing at that end of the court.
  5.  How to handle Artest?  It's simple.  Here you go, Martell.  Study up before the game.
--Dave (