|2012-2013 NBA Season|
|April 15th, 2013|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK|
|7:00 PM Central Daylight Time|
|Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Network California|
|WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), 1140 KHTK The Fan|
|Sactown Royalty, Cowbell Kingdom, Bleed Black and Purple|
|Previous Meetings: Dec 14th, Jan 25th (Thunder Lead Season Series 2-0)|
|Injury Report: Kendrick Perkins (Questionable), Kevin Martin (Questionable)|
|Isaiah Thomas||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Tyreke Evans||SG||Thabo Sefolosha|
|John Salmons||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Jason Thompson||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|DeMarcus Cousins||C||Hasheem Thabeet (Perkins?)|
The Kings, who had a couple of nice runs in March, are absolutely limping to the finish line. They're 1-5 over their last 6 games, and are flying into Oklahoma City on the second night of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, their ownership situation lies in a constant state of flux, likely not to be resolved until the season is done.
I remember writing last year about how badly I wanted to see the Kings stay in Sacramento, when it seemed like Anaheim was all but a done deal. But now that the Kings are potentially moving to Seattle and forming a great rivalry, it puts me at more of an awkward position. In a perfect world, both cities would be able to maintain franchises, given that they have established fan bases. Yet, I find myself actually wanting to see the Sonics back in the NBA more than I want to see the Kings in Seattle. I have more extended thoughts on my feelings regarding the situation written in an article here.
Still, don't regard my feelings as a total dismissal of what's going on in Sacramento. The Sactown Royalty crew have been part of an intense grass roots movement to keep the team in town, and it's totally wrong that the team should be sold out of state when there's a perfectly competitive offer in state. Especially when the market is there, and when the fans care so much. All I'm saying is that if you put a gun to my head and asked which situation I'd rather have, I'd choose Seattle. With the understanding that the Thunder could be sold in 10 years when the city refuses to finance a new arena, totally breaking my heart as well.
Anyway, let's talk about the roundball, shall we? The Kings are a team that relies upon mismatches and pressure to create a thick soup of defense. Against the Thunder, this basically means that they swarm Durant and Westbrook. During both of the previous matchups, this strategy has proven totally ineffective. The Thunder were able to get wide open shots for players like Sefolosha, Martin, and Ibaka. As a result, save for a heroic fourth quarter performance by Isaiah Thomas, the Thunder have totally dominated the Kings this season.
Tonight, the intrigue will be upped by the potential absence of Thunder players. Kevin Martin and Kendrick Perkins sat out with minor injuries at Portland on Friday, and it appears their absences were more preventative than real. The Thunder will need to win this game in order to clinch home court advantage, so they can definitely sit out their players against Milwaukee on Wednesday. Nevertheless, I wouldn't be surprised to see a major player or two taking time out tonight.
The result of Perk and K-Mart sitting out on Friday wasn't disastrous, but it wasn't good, either. The Thunder's bench unit gave up several key possessions and allowed the Blazers to hang around far longer than they should have. Nevertheless, the starters were basically able to wrap the game up by the time the fourth quarter rolled around tonight. The Kings are definitely a tougher test than Portland was, but with the Thunder at home and needing to clinch that 1 seed, I just don't see them losing tonight. However, if the Kings were to challenge, they'd need a significant improvement from Demarcus Cousins, who performed poorly in the two previous Thunder-Kings matchups.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 110, Sacramento Kings 103.