Game Preview: Kings (13-18) at Celtics (10-18)


I wish the Celtics were worse than they are.

If you looked at their record, and looked at their roster, you’d think this game would be a relatively easy win for a Sacramento Kings team that desperately needs one. I’m not going to try and convince you that the Celtics are a good team, but they are probably better than they are given credit for. They are well coached, they play hard, and they have two truly disruptive perimeter defenders in Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley.

The Celtics are 1-5 since trading All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month. They are clearly trying to figure out how to play without Rondo, and as good as Smart has been defensively, he’s not in Rondo’s league as a floor general.

As much as I’ll praise what Boston is doing on the perimeter defensively, the Kings will have a clear interior advantage. That is where the Kings are going to win this game. Some combination of Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass, and newly acquired Brandan Wright will be forced to defend DeMarcus Cousins inside, and I wouldn’t bet on any of them.

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  • Unfortunately, the Kings haven’t shown a consistent ability to feed Cousins inside. This was highlighted as recently as Monday night’s 107-99 loss to the Brooklyn Nets where Cousins registered just twelve shot attempts in 36 minutes.

    The Celtics play at a very high pace (good for 2nd in the league) and they use a lot of players on a nightly basis. It’s not a fun team to play against.

    If the Kings weren’t in such a fragile state, I’d like their chances in this game a lot more than I do. Could they win? Absolutely. I just don’t think this should be viewed as a given based on the Celtics record and roster post-Rondo trade.

    DeMarcus Cousins had some very strong words for his teammates after the loss in Brooklyn. If this team hasn’t completely fallen apart already, it’s heading down that road. They need to pick up a few wins on this road trip. Boston seems like a fine place to start.

    Happy New Year! And Check back in to A Royal Pain after tonight’s game for our postgame coverage.