Game Preview: Kings (1-1) vs. Clippers (2-0)


Do you remember what I said about the Kings brutal schedule in November? It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

The Kings will play their first away game of the year on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. The Clippers are 2-0 on the young season, with wins coming against the Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers. Not exactly what I would consider a difficult schedule, but 2-0 is 2-0.

The Kings are coming off a huge home win against the Portland Trail Blazers. Yes, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to call a win in game 2-of-82 huge. The Kings needed that one. The win is great, but the way the Kings won is what I found most encouraging. Rudy Gay scored 40 points (efficiently!), but beyond that great individual performance, most of the roster contributed in one way or another. For a more in-depth look at Friday nights win, check out our recap here.

Keys to the Game:

1. Darren Collison, defensive stopper? I’m kidding, but seriously, Darren Collison has played very competitive defense against two of the top-5 points guards in the Western Conference in back-to-back games. It won’t get any easier when the Kings play Chris Paul and the Clippers on Sunday. Collison backed up Paul last year. They know each other extremely well. Paul creates so much offense for the Clippers, but the Kings can gain a real advantage here if Collison can see some of the Clippers offensive sets coming. He ran that team for 35 games last season. He knows what the Clippers want to do offensively.

2. Defending Blake Griffin: This is not going to be easy. Jason Thompson is probably underrated as a defender, but Blake Griffin isn’t the kind of power forward Thompson usually has success defending. He’s better against the LaMarcus Aldridge types. The Kings cannot match Griffins athleticism. They just can’t. Reggie Evans and/or Carl Landry are going to use their six fouls, I’ll tell you that. Maybe the physicality will get to Griffin. Maybe it won’t, but that is the only chance the Kings have at slowing him down.

3. Get Boogie Going: DeMarcus Cousins was solid in the win against the Blazers, but he wasn’t close to dominant. He had some foul trouble, and was clearly playing as the second offensive option while Gay was on his way to 40. In four games against the Clippers last season, Cousins averaged 26 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists on .483 shooting. He’s due for a big game.

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  • The Line: The Clippers are 10-point favorites in this one, and as realistic as that outcome may be, I do think the Kings figured some things out against Portland. This game should be closer than that, especially if the Clippers take the Kings lightly. I’m taking the Kings +10. (1-1 on the season)

    Final Thoughts: I’m not expecting a win in this one. The Kings are playing a team who clearly has a talent and experience edge, and they are playing them at their house. If the Kings continue this stretch of solid defense, and generally look like a competent basketball team, a close, competitive loss is a reasonable outcome.