Game Preview: Kings (0-1) vs. Trail Blazers (1-0)


"“In this league, you know, the one thing you have to do is you’ve got to kind of forget about the previous game” – Darren Collison"

Amen, Darren. Amen.

Do yourself a favor and avoid looking at the Kings schedule until December. They have a brutal stretch of games in November, and if they don’t get their act together soon they will fall completely out of the playoff race before the month is even over. I don’t want to call tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers a must win, because it’s not, but the Kings need to show some progression after the disaster that was opening night, or this is going to get real ugly real soon.

Keys to the Game

1. Keep Defending: Despite how poor the Kings offense looked Wednesday night against the Warriors, they played respectable defense for most of the game. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for the Kings to completely buy in to Michael Malone’s new offensive system, but if they have offensive issues again tonight, the defense is going to have to keep them in it. And they have their work cut out for them, because Damian Lillard can shoot the ball like Stephen Curry, and if you think Klay Thompson hurt the Kings in the post, wait till you see Wesley Matthews down there. I didn’t even mention LaMarcus Aldridge.

2. Limit Turnovers: The Kings committed a disgusting amount of turnovers in the home opener. The Blazers only committed ten turnovers in Wednesday nights win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ball security has to be a priority tonight.

3. Bench Advantage: The Blazers have a scary (Happy Halloween!) starting five. The Kings are going to struggle against that unit. I do think the Kings have a decent bench advantage, provided they play to their potential. I’m looking for a big bounce back game out of Ramon Sessions. Steve Blake’s defense could be just what the doctor ordered.

4. Do your Job: I went back and watched some of the Warriors game again this morning, and I tried to take a mental note of which players actually performed at their expected level. The Kings had one player who did that. Carl Landry. Some players were less horrible than others. Darren Collison was decent, but I expect him to shoot the ball better than he did. Nik Stauskas had a good first half, but that was it. The Kings do not have an excess amount of talent. They need the players they do have to perform as well as they possibly can. They didn’t get that against Golden State, and they lost by 18. Role players are streaky by nature, but DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay? They need to bring it every single night.

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Is taking a step back in 2023-24 inevitable for the Sacramento Kings?
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  • The Line (0-1)

    The Blazers are six-point favorites in this one. I’m 0-1 after I took the Kings +5 at home against the Warriors on Wednesday. Guess what? I’m taking the Kings (+6) again tonight. I can’t make a compelling statistical argument for it; I just think this Kings team does have some pride in what they do. If they don’t show up tonight, that’s a bad sign.

    Final Thoughts:

    This isn’t going to be easy, but we saw the Kings remain competitive for the first half in the home opener despite not playing well. If the Kings can get DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay going, they’ll be in this one till the end. Check back in after the game for our recap.