Game Preview: Sacramento Kings (10-16) at Toronto Raptors (17-11)

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It was a disappointing loss for the Sacramento Kings Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they will have a chance to bounce back this afternoon, their opponent this time the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors, record 17-11, are one of the top squads in the surprisingly strong Eastern Conference, as they are currently ranked third of the 15 teams that consist in the East.

The Kings are already known as a poor team on the road, record of 2-9, so in order to pull off the upset against an Eastern Conference powerhouse, they must follow these three keys to the game:

Efficient Defense: The Raptors are in the bottom third of the league in points scored per game (99.8). The Kings need to take advantage of this by playing solid defense for the whole 48 minutes, especially against players like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

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The dynamic pair together average 43.7 points a game for the Raptors, so if the Kings can at least maintain the pair of All-Stars, it will cause troubles for the Raptors offense. This means players like Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay, and Ben McLemore will have to buckle down, and at least make it competitive for the two headed monster that exist in Toronto to put the ball in the bucket.

Boogie Takedown: When the Kings have DeMarcus Cousins doing his thing, the Kings become a much better basketball team. So far into this season the Kings have had to ride and die with the performance of Boogie, and it looks like that will continue today.

If Boogie is able to produce by scoring efficiently, crashing the boards, and protecting the paint on defense the Kings always seem to have a shot in the games they played.

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Battle of the Reserves: Since Omri Casspi has been upgraded into the starting lineup, the bench production has been lagging for the Kings. On the other hand, it isn’t as bad compared to Toronto’s bench, which is currently ranked 29th in the league in efficiency rating (30.5), while Sacramento’s is ranked 15th with a 39.0 rating (per Hoops Stats). This trend must continue tonight in order for the Kings to have a good chance in completing the upset.

If the bench for the Kings is able to outplay the Raptors, it will help immensely for the purple and white for today’s game. This means players like Darren Collison, Marco Belinelli, and Kosta Koufos will all have to have a solid night in fulfilling their roles.

Final Thoughts: Overall, if the Kings defense can restrain DeRozan and Lowry offensively, have Boogie Cousins have a great night, and the bench make a positive contribution to the team the Kings should have a great chance in winning today’s matchup. The series is currently 1-0 for the season, advantage Kings. Let’s go for the sweep!