This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Records: Sacramento Kings (20-39) at Oklahoma City Thunder (35-23)
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: Ford Center
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722), Cox Sports Net California
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.
Enemy Blog(s): Sactown Royalty
Previous Meeting(s): Oct. 31, Nov. 10
The last time I did a Sacramento Preview, it was very early in the season, and I predicted a huge win. The guys over at Sactown Royalty gave me hell over it, and the result tipped in their favor. But, fortunately for the Thunder, times have changed. Back then, we were both teams around .500. Now, the Thunder are a playoff team, and the Kings are slipping further and further below .500. The Thunder have traded for Eric Maynor and seen Ibaka develop, while the Kings have traded away Kevin Martin and Sergio Rodriguez, while seeing the development of Carl Landry.
Only one of those incidents was positive for the Kings, whereas all of them were positive for the Thunder. Not to mention the fact that Carl Landry, while possibly making the Kings better on the whole, makes them more traditional, and thus more susceptible to the Thunder. Don't get me wrong, I think that the Kings could small ball it and challenge us. But, I don't think they will, and even if they do, I'm not sure if they have the firepower to do so. Especially with Jason Thompson, as well known Thunder killer, out for the game.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Spencer Hawes
Krstic always seems to find success against the soft interior defense of the Kings, and despite the addition of Landry, expect him to have a 10 plus point game. Spencer Hawes will have an average game, but will do less well than Krstic.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Carl Landry
Carl Landry has found recent success with the Kings, and he'll do well against the Thunder, traditional or not. Jeff Green will have an average to below average game against Landry, who has held him well in the past.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Omri Cassipi
Expect a huge scoring surge from KD, and for Cassipi to continue his rookie struggles. Say what you want about Durant's defense, but anybody who is that quick and is 6'10" has to spell trouble when facing a smaller shooter like Cassipi.
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Donte Greene
Donte Greene will hit a 3, and maybe 1 or 2 more buckets. Sefolosha will hit a layup and a couple of free throws. Don't pay too much attention to this matchup.
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs.Tyreke Evans
In the past, this has been an exciting battle, and Westbrook hasn't exactly excelled, especially in the scoring department. All in all, Tyreke will score in bunches, while Westbrook will score infrequently, but dish out more assists. I wouldn't be surprised to see the roles flip-flop, but hey, I've got to work with what I've got.
Battle of the Benches:
Our benches are about equal. The Kings are a bit thin with big man backups though, so expect them to go small at time, especially with the power of Udoka, Garcia, and Udrih.
Coaching and Intangibles:
I'll save the coaching for the bottom line, but the Thunder have won 3 straight, and the Kings have won 2 straight. The Thunder are at home and the Kings are well below .500, so I'd say the game tips in the Thunder's favor intangibles-wise.
If Paul Westphal is smart and wants to win this game, he'd start Carl Landry at Center and run his guards while ordering them to attack inside. Still, I think he won't do that, since he's still getting Landry adjusted to the system. If the Kings don't do that, all the Thunder have to do is control the pace and utilize what outside shooting they have well, and it will be an easy victory.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 104, Sacramento 95
I'm ready for this one. We own the Kings!!!!
How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!
And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I'll be in the Ford Center cheering the team on, but I'll be back to write a recap later tonight. Go Thunder!