Three Keys for a Potential Win Against the Thunder


Last Wednesday night, the Kings again fell short for the second time this week to the Utah Jazz, who are showing everybody the right way of rebuilding an organization. Despite Sacramento keeping the game competitive, the injuries of DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay resulted in the Kings just not having enough talent to beat the Jazz at the end.

As the short-handed Kings try to rebound from their loss in Utah, they will be facing tonight the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, who are still chasing after a playoff spot.

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The Thunder are at this moment tied with the New Orleans Pelicans for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, so the Kings know that they are going to have to bring their “A-Game” as the Thunder view this matchup as a “must win.”

Despite this game having no significant meaning in terms of potential playoff contention for Sacramento, the team should embrace the role of being the spoiler. For the purple and white to have a chance to make the Thunder’s season a lot more difficult, they must follow these three keys.

1) Sharing the Rock: Despite the Kings only scoring 91 points in their last contest, the silver lining had to be the ball movement, as the squad was surprisingly efficient moving the ball on the offensive end. For Sacramento to be efficient tonight, they must replicate that ball movement.

Sharing the ball is key, especially when your best players are sidelined. There are already reports stating that DeMarcus Cousins will be missing his third consecutive game, and Rudy Gay’s status is still up in the air; so that means the Kings might be without their first and second options on offense for another game, which means ball movement has to be crucial.

2) Containing Westbrook: Russell Westbrook is the type of player that you can’t stop. It’s impossible, but you can contain him to some level. George Karl’s game plan tonight has to be designed to force other players, other than Westbrook, to step up and have them win the game for them.

The guards (especially McLemore and McCallum) are going to have a hefty task guarding Westbrook. Obviously they will have some help, but they are primarily responsible tonight in trying to contain the Thunder’s lone superstar.

3) Limit the Turnovers: I feel like this key pops up every time the Kings play. Maybe that’s because a majority of the time they are unsuccessful in fulfilling it. For the Kings to be successful tonight, they must LIMIT THE TURNOVERS!

Too many times this season, Sacramento has lost costly games due to the immense amount of turnovers that they commit on a nightly basis (4th most turnovers in the league).

More importantly, the Kings have to limit their “boneheaded” turnovers.

I have seen too many Westbrook highlights where he is able to sniff out careless plays and turn his opponent’s mistakes into points in favor for his team. So again, lets try to keep the turnovers on the down low.

Final Thoughts: I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I would be comfortable picking the Thunder to beat the Kings tonight. Although not officially set in stone, it looks like Cousins is a no-show for tonight and Rudy Gay still hasn’t been determined if he is playing or not.

Without those two on the court, I’m seeing the Kings best players as Omri Casspi and Ben McLemore, and even though they are solid in their respective roles, they should not be a first and second option offensively for any team in the league.

But still, if Rudy Gay is a go for tonight, I’m still picking the Thunder because they are fighting for their lives right now, and I know Westbrook would go mad if none other than the Sacramento Kings took away their season. In either case, I’m picking the Thunder, but I do expect the Kings to make it competitive, but unfortunately it won’t be enough.

I hope I’m wrong.

Who’s Playing? Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder

Where At? Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

What Time? 5 pm Pacific

Where Do I Watch? Comcast Sportsnet California