Team Records: Portland (26-8) at Sacramento (10-22)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -5
Refs: Bill Spooner, Bennie Adams, Courtney Kirkland
The Skinny: The Blazers look to bounce back from a disappointing loss at home against the Sixers as they face a Kings team that is better than their record. Sacramento has won only two of their last six but those two were against Miami and Houston, so this is a potential trap game the Blazers will hope to avoid slipping up in.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers built a 22-point lead early in the fourth quarter and held on to win fairly easily as they dispatched the Kings to sweep a home and home back in November.
Projected Kings Lineup:
PF-Jason Thompson (Rider-6th Season) 7.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, .8 APG.
SF-Rudy Gay (Connecticut-8th Season)-19.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.3 APG.
C-DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky-4th Season)-23.2 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 3.1 APG
SG-Ben McLemore (Kansas-Rookie)-8.4 PPG, 3 RPG, 1 APG.
PG-Isaiah Thomas (Washington-3rd Season)-19.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.2 APG
Player to Watch: Isaiah Thomas (pictured at right)- Hey folks, want to see a guy who probably isn’t actually that good but puts up big numbers on a bad team and is fun to watch? Well then, you’ll LOVE Isaiah Thomas. Thomas, the last pick in the 2011 draft, has proven his NBA worth, certainly at least in Sacramento, primarily because he is an extremely streaky shooter with decent passing to boot. His defense is suspect and he turns the ball over a bit much but in the end, Thomas is what the Kings need for now. Specifically, Thomas is like the light that for the Kings makes their bad team watchable, if not actually very good.
Did You Know?: The Kings are currently in their fourth city in franchise history, beginning life in Rochester in 1923, moving to Cincinnati in 1952, KC in 1972 and finally Sacramento in 1985.
Song of the Day: “Over There” by the American Quartet-My grandfather died last night at age 96 and he was born in 1917, the year this WW I patriotic song was released. I dedicate this preview and this song to his memory. Enjoy:
Sacramento: Out-PF Carl Landry (Hip)
Reevaluating Sacramento: Getting Rudy Gay
One of the worst things a team can do when they are rebuilding is trade for a large contract of a player that hamstrings your ability to build a competitive roster in a few years. By most accounts, that is what the Kings did when they traded for Rudy Gay earlier this year, as Gay has a $19.3M player option for next season that he is expected to exercise. Yet, here is the bottom line, the Kings were not going to be any good this year or next year so they can use Rudy Gay’s deal as a trade chip or just let it expire and have lots of cap space. So you see, it wasn’t such a bad deal for the Kings to get Gay after all, at least not for as long as many had feared.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make someone other than Cousins beat them. As we saw last night, Cousins is very good but no one else really is. The Blazers need to keep that second threat from emerging if they want to win.
Sacramento wins if: They score at least 20 fast break points. The Kings are not a great offensive team. They will need to get a lot of easy baskets to have a shot against Portland.