Game Preview: Sacramento Kings (1-4) vs Houston Rockets (2-3)


The Sacramento Kings (1-4) know that they need to improve their defense, and James Harden and the Houston Rockets (2-3) offense are sure to put the Kings D to the test. Tonight’s game is the first in a six game home stand, and the Kings might be in a good position to steal a win from a team many believe is a dark horse for the title.

This game is as close to a “must win game” for the Kings without being a must win game. I’m not freaking out yet about the King’s poor start, unlike a lot of chatter I’ve read on twitter.

The Kings are pretty much where I thought they would be right now, but this is a big game for the Kings early in their season. Coming away with a win here will only help give the team confidence before going into a hard stretch of Western Conference opponents. 

More from Kings News

The Sacramento Kings have faltered without their franchise player DeMarcus Cousins. With Boogie not on the floor the Kings offense seems lost at times, and their defense in the paint has taken a big hit. Cousins is sitting out again (strained Achilles) for the Kings, and although the team needs his numbers and size, tonight’s game is an opportunity for Sacramento to gel as a unit and prove they can win without him.

Coach George Karl talked about how Cousin’s absence has affected the team.

"From CBS Sports“When you’ve got a hole without Cous, trying to learn your new personality against really good basketball teams very early in the season, right now we’re playing as a very average defensive team and offensively we’re searching for some confidence, missing some layups, missing some easy shots, missing free throws,”"

This is the first of a back-to-back for Houston who go on to play the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. The Rockets have been resting Dwight Howard lately because of concern over injuries to his back.

Howard not being 100%, and the Rockets rough start (losing their first three games by 20 points) could mean they are vulnerable. Tonight’s game would be a good time for the Kings to take advantage with a simpler, but solid defensive play, and actually finishing layups and fast breaks.

The Kings, playing at home, on national TV (ESPN) in their baby blues can only hype up the team, and give it some energy they have sorely missed. But to do that they need to improve on their lackluster defensive play from the previous three games.

More from A Royal Pain

James Harden averaged 40 points against the Kings last season, and he is going to continue score tonight no matter what. But with a tentative Howard playing, or not playing, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos should own the paint. That means the King’s guards will need to step up and contest shots. 

Projected starters for the Kings tonight are: Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, James Anderson, Rudy Gay and Cauley-Stein. Expect Rudy to bounce back from his poor offensive performance against the Suns. The Kings will also need a big effort from their backcourt if they want to get their second win of the season.

Next: Kings Need Their Boogie Back

Also of note: Patrick Beverly will be out due to a concussion he received Wednesday, which means former King Marcus Thorton will likely be starting for the Rockets.