Game Preview: Kings (5-2) vs. Mavericks (4-3)


The Kings will look to get back on track tonight in Dallas after a disappointing performance in Oklahoma City Sunday night. You can read our full recap of that game here.

I have a confession to make. I wasn’t home for the Kings game in OKC. I recorded it with every intention of watching it later, but after having the score spoiled for me, and reading about the Kings uninspired play, I might just skip it. Don’t tell anyone.

I really respect the Dallas Mavericks. The Kings and Mavericks shared basketball dominance in the early-mid 2000’s, and that era of NBA basketball is something I’ll never forget. Of course, under the leadership of Mark Cuban the Mavericks did a much better job sustaining their success. They’ve managed to stay in the playoff / contender mix for over ten years, while the Kings have been NBA cellar dwellers for longer than I want to remember. The Mavericks are good again this season, and while the Kings might be better than everyone originally thought, we just don’t know yet.

Keep an eye on:

PF/C Matchup: The Kings and Mavericks have a similar power forward and center structure. The Kings use DeMarcus Cousins as their offensive anchor, and put Jason Thompson on the opposing teams biggest offensive threat. The Mavericks use Dirk Nowitzki as their offensive anchor, and Tyson Chandler as their paint defender. Chandler has a fantastic and well-earned defensive reputation around the league, but to his credit, Jason Thompson has developed on that end as well. If Chandler can limit Cousins, I don’t like the Kings chances. If Thompson can keep Dirk under control, I think the Kings can get a tough road win.

Reclamation Projects: Have I mentioned how much I like the Mavericks yet? Remember when interest in Monta Ellis around the league was basically non-existent? The Mavericks, and more specifically Rick Carlisle, found a way to get the most out of Ellis despite his shortcomings, and he’s played some of the best basketball of his career in Dallas. Rudy Gay is doing the same thing in Sacramento right now. The NBA is more fun when talented players like Monta Ellis and Rudy Gay are being used properly. I’m happy for Monta. Ben McLemore will have his hands full tonight.

Zone Defense: As many of you who watched the Kings game on Sunday night already know, the Thunder played a lot of zone defense against the Kings, forcing them to either tactically break down the zone, or prove that they could hit perimeter shots. If you’ve watched the Kings at all this season you already knew perimeter shooting has been (and will continue to be) a major issue for this team. I couldn’t have more respect for Rick Carlisle as a coach. He will go to a zone defense if it makes sense, and the Kings are going to see a lot of it if teams continue to find success using it. The Kings are at or near the bottom of the league in every offensive three-point statistic. They rarely shoot threes, and when they do, they don’t go in. The Kings front office targeted shooting as an area of need during the offseason, and that was a major reason why they drafted Nik Stauskas, but the shooting issues from last season have not been fixed. This is a real issue for the Kings, and I would expect Dallas to expose it in some form or fashion tonight.

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  • The Line (5-2): The Dallas Mavericks are 6.5-point favorites tonight, and as I’ve been saying all season, that is too high. The Kings were exposed to a certain degree Sunday night, so I do understand the line, even though I don’t agree with it. As good as I think the Mavericks will be, they aren’t playing their best basketball yet, either. That doesn’t mean I think the Kings will win, I just like the way these two teams matchup. The Kings have acknowledged that they cannot play the way they did in Oklahoma City, and they sound sincere about having to play better. It should be close.

    Final Thoughts: I almost forgot about the DeMarcus Cousins / Devin Harris feud. You’ve got the give the Kings a lot of credit. Even when they were bad, they were always entertaining. I wonder if we’ll see anything out of these two tonight.