Game Preview: Sacramento Kings (1-6) vs. San Antonio Spurs (4-2)


The Sacramento Kings (1-6) simply cannot be satisfied with their performance this season heading into Monday night’s matchup against the always impressive San Antonio Spurs (4-2).

Excuses can be made, and they may even be justified. For example, DeMarcus Cousins has been injured for the last four games. The team is still getting used to playing with all of the new acquisitions from this past Summer. George Karl’s fast-paced offense may take some more time to figure out. And the Kings’ schedule has been one of the most difficult in the league.

But the fact remains: 1-6 just doesn’t cut it in the Western Conference, where losses pile up and quickly become a heavy burden to bare for teams attempting to make the playoffs. The Kings will need to display some concrete and consistent improvement soon, or face the consequences of digging holes early in the season.

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To top off the Kings’ laundry list of problems so far this season, the team’s sixth-man Darren Collison is ruled out indefinitely after sustaining a strained hamstring in last Friday’s loss vs. the Rockets. At 15.8 points and 5.2 assists per contest, Collison has been the Kings’ most consistent offensive leader this season. He is listed as day-to-day going forward.

The Kings will certainly look to use Collison’s absence to get players like Rajon Rondo more involved and in an offensive rhythm. Rondo took full advantage in Saturday’s loss to the Warriors, playing just under 45 minutes and recording 14 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists, good for his first triple-double of the season.

The good news for the Kings is that All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins will return to the court Monday night to try and lead a turn around for his continuously searching team.

Oct 8, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) and center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) defend San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings won 95-92. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay , who has struggled throughout the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, expressed his relief in Cousins’ return from injury to reporters after Saturday’s loss.

Gay, who is only shooting 36.6% from the field in his last 5 games, benefits greatly from the attention that defenses must pay to Cousins when he is on the floor. Rudy averaged 21.0 points per game in the 2014-2015 season, and the Kings hope that Gay’s production will return to normal as soon as possible.

The bad news is that the Spurs will visit Sacramento with no intention of making life easier for the Kings. Prior to the season, questions surrounded the Spurs about acquiring All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and how he would affect the Spurs on-court chemistry and offensive rhythm.

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Although Aldridge has had a few off games so far, the Spurs have hardly missed a beat. They currently lead the Southwest Division with a 4-2 record and look forward to creating an even larger lead within their division.

Kawhi Leonard, reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is leading the Spurs with 21.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. A force on offense and defense, Leonard will be a nightmare matchup for the struggling Gay.

However, despite the Spurs’ record, their schedule has been considerably easy compared to that of the Kings. Of all the teams that the Spurs have played against so far, none currently have a record that is over .500.

Next: How The Kings Will Fare Without Darren Collison

The Kings will look to take advantage of a team that may be used to inferior competition early in the season. But, as NBA fans find themselves saying every season, never underestimate the Spurs. They’ll definitely present another daunting challenge for the Kings on Monday night in Sacramento.