Team Records: Sacramento (1-0) at Portland (1-0)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 95.5 the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -8
Refs: Ed Malloy, Curtis Blair and Eric Lewis
The Skinny: The Blazers look to build off of their narrow opening night victory with a win over the Kings, who are coming off a home opener win over the Lakers. The Kings bring in a young squad headlined by a trio of Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmer Fredette. Portland has won four of the last five against Sacramento and is 45-10 at home versus the Kings.
Last season: The Blazers won the season series 2-1, winning twice in Sacramento and losing the only game at the Rose Garden.
Projected Kings Lineup:
PF: Chuck Hayes (Kentucky, 7th season) – 7 PPG, 9 RPG, 3 APG
SF: John Salmons (Miami (FL), 10th season) – 13 PPG, 3 RPG, 0 APG
C: DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky, 2nd season) – 12 PPG, 11 RPG, 0 APG
SG: Marcus Thronton (LSU, 3rd season) – 27 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG
PG: Tyreke Evans (Memphis, 3rd season) – 20 PPG, 2 RPG, 3 APG
Player to Watch: DeMarcus Cousins (pictured at right) – Cousins is one of the bigger enigmas in professional basketball. Widely recognized as a talented player, his biggest problem has often been his inability to control his emotions. (Cousins received 13 technical fouls and was ejected a league-leading three times last season.) When he was on, however, he was on big time, recording 26 double-doubles and impressing at both ends of the court. He needs to have his emotions in check Tuesday for the Kings to have a chance.
Did You Know?: In the 1920s, the franchise that would later become the Sacramento Kings was founded in Rochester, NY as the Rochester Seagrams, named after the local Seagrams distillery.
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee)
Sacramento is your classic young team, full of promise and offensive firepower but lacking in consistency. This primarily showed up in Sacramento’s inability to finish close games last season. Time and again last season they were in a tight game late only to have the more experienced team beat them out. This was true in both of Portland’s wins over Sacramento last season. When Sacramento is rolling well on offense, they try and break you down one on one, choosing typically not to pass much, and shooting lots of three-pointers. On defense, let’s just say they aren’t so good, allowing opponents to shoot 48% last season and allowing assists at one of the higher rates in the league. In short, if you pass the ball well versus Sacramento, you will eventually find an open shot.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Sacramento’s three-pointers. Sacramento beat the Lakers last night primarily because they hit 9-18 threes. With players such as Marcus Thornton, who are often either hot or cold from deep, if the Blazers can shut them down, they will win.
Sacramento wins if: They score at least 20 fast break points. The Kings scored 19 fast break points in their win over the Lakers last night. They will need to do at least this well to beat Portland since Portland can’t be counted on to shoot as poorly as the Lakers did last night (especially LA’s pathetic 1-16 mark from three-point land).