The Sacramento Kings try to go 2-0 under new head coach Keith Smart. Can they top Thursday’s improbable comeback in a Sunday matinee against the visiting Orlando Magic?
Kings Probable Starters (3-5)
|Tyreke Evans||Marcus Thornton||John Salmons||J.J. Hickson||DeMarcus Cousins|
Chuck Hayes is out at least 3-4 weeks after dislocating his shoulder Thursday night. Keith Smart didn’t name his replacement outright following yesterday’s practice. For now, Hickson is regarded as the probable starter.
Magic Probable Starters (5-3)
|Jameer Nelson||Jason Richardson||Hedo Turkoglu||Ryan Anderson||Dwight Howard|
Dwight Howard wants to be traded, but he’s been professional about it. With him in the fold, they’re likely still a playoff team in the east. Ball movement stalled in the Magic’s 97-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday and Stan Van Gundy may be mulling over a change to his lineup. But according to the Orlando Sentinel, not until after their three-game Western Conference road trip.
You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
1. Match-up to watch?
Eddy Rivera: J.J. Redick vs. Jimmer Fredette. For Jimmer, Redick is the player he should be aspiring to be in some ways. Entering the NBA from Duke University, Redick’s defense was questionable but with hard work, he’s become a smart defender that’s not a liability on the court. Jimmer can achieve the same goal if he’s committed to it.
Beckley Mason: Cousins versus Howard is the matchup I’ll be watching most closely. We know who Howard is, and his steady, aggressive presence will be a great backdrop for the DeMarcus Cousins experience.
Jonathan Santiago: This is easy: Dwight Howard vs. DeMarcus Cousins. You have arguably the best defensive center in the game going up against a budding offensive talent in the middle.
2. Stat that decides the game…
Eddy Rivera: Three-pointers made and attempted. The Sacramento Kings don’t have the fleet of three-point shooters the Orlando Magic do and that could pose a problem. With Marcus Thornton as the only player shooting above 35 percent on the roster, the possibility of the Magic outgunning the Kings from downtown is high. That, among other things, could tilt the game in Orlando’s favor.
Beckley Mason: Transition points. The Magic historically do a great job of getting back on defense and generally limiting easy buckets. The Kings… not so much. If they can play with focus and energy, this could be close. Related: offensive rebounds could also decide the game because the Kings will need some way to make up for a general lack of offensive efficiency.
Jonathan Santiago: Offensive rebounds. If there’s one thing the Kings do well, it’s attack the offensive glass. They lead the league in total offensive rebounds, pulling down 15 per game so far this season. Those extra possessions generated by offensive rebounds could be crucial in today’s game.
3. Deal or no deal: DeMarcus Cousins for Dwight Howard?
Eddy Rivera: No deal. As talented of a player DeMarcus Cousins may become, he’s not someone the Magic should build a franchise around in the advent that Dwight Howard leaves. There are better trade partners out there for Orlando and the one player that they should be concentrating on right now is Andrew Bynum on the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s it.
Beckley Mason: No deal for the Kings, and probably the Magic too. The Kings can still probably get some real long-term assets if they have to move Cousins, whereas Howard would flee after one season. Would the Magic really consider making Cousins the face of the franchise?
Jonathan Santiago: It depends on who the Kings have to give up. If the Magic accept a package of players that doesn’t include Tyreke Evans, I would be for it. Maybe playing alongside Evans convinces Howard to stay long-term. But thankfully, I’m not a general manger (nor am I qualified to be), so I don’t have to make that call!