Tonight the Sacramento Kings are back in Sleep Train Arena to play the Portland Trail Blazers. After being a playoff team last season, the Blazers have been struggling. This is mainly due to the loss of their key players in LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews, who are all now on different teams.
Because of this Portland is currently in the basement of the Western Conference standings with a record of 12-20. If the Kings are going to leave tonight’s game with a victory, they must follow these three keys to the game.
Fast Start: The Kings were known as a team that started off games slow in the beginning of the season, but since Omri Casspi has been in the starting lineup they have been able to start games off a lot faster. Having a quick start to the game will benefit the Kings greatly tonight. This means point guard Rajon Rondo will have to control the tempo of the game from the start, and make plays for his teammates to score quick.
Spark From The Bench: The Kings reserve players have done a great job so far in the season. Right now they are ranked 7th in the NBA in points per game with 38.3 points. On the other hand, Portland’s bench has been mediocre, as they are ranked 22nd in the league averaging 31.5 points per game. If the trend continues tonight for both teams it will benefit Sacramento greatly. This means players like Darren Collison, Kosta Koufos, and others will have to play solid ball on both ends of the court.
Big Night From “The Great Rudini”: In the last two seasons, Rudy Gay has had his way against the Blazers defense. In the 2013-2014 season Gay averaged 31 points in 2 games, and in the 2014-2015 season averaged 30 points in 3 games.
In most cases DeMarcus Cousins has had his way with opponents this season, but Gay on the other hand has been a little inconsistent. If the Gay is able to find a rhythm on the offensive end, especially against a team that he has been very successful against in the past, it will make the Kings offense more dynamic tonight.
Final Thoughts: If the Kings are able to complete the three keys listed above, they have a great shot in winning tonight’s game. Right now in the Western Conference standings, the Kings are ½ a game back from the 8th spot of the West.
If the Kings are able to win tonight, they will gain the eight seed, meaning if the season ended tonight they would make the playoffs. Although the record for Sacramento looks discouraging right now, they still remain in the playoff hunt.
If they are able to win a winnable game like tonight, it will definitely be encouraging for the purple and white going forward into season knowing their playoffs aspirations remain to be very realistic.