The Sacramento Kings suffered a demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers last night. They continue their five-game voyage with a match-up against the streaking Andrea Bargnani and his Toronto Raptors.
Kings Probable Starters (3-7)
|Tyreke Evans||Jimmer Fredette||John Salmons||J.J. Hickson||DeMarcus Cousins|
The Kings could find themselves again playing with just 10 healthy bodies tonight. Battling a left thigh contusion, Marcus Thornton remains questionable for Wednesday’s game, meaning Jimmer Fredette could make his second consecutive NBA start.
Raptors Probable Starters (4-6)
|Jose Calderon||DeMar Derozan||Rasual Butler||Andrea Bargnani||Amir Johnson|
The Raptors became the first team to surrender victory to the Wizards this season, losing 93-78 to Washington yesterday. However under the guidance of new head coach Dwane Casey, they have improved defensively. In nine of their last 10 contests, they’ve held teams below 45-percent shooting and under 100 points.
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?
Zarar Siddiqi: DeRozan vs. Evans. DeRozan had a stinker last night, which served as icing to his stinker the night before. Maybe a matchup against one of the NBA’s “up and coming” guards can extricate him out of his funk. It’s a third night of the B2B2B for the Raptors, so third time’s the charm, right? Bonus matchup: Amir Johnson vs. DeMarcus Cousins – Johnson is running on fumes after the last two nights against Love and McGee.
James Herbert: If he plays, Marcus Thornton vs. DeRozan. Both can be a handful to guard and will be looking to bounce back. Thornton wasn’t his usual efficient self against Orlando and DeRozan has had three rough offensive nights in a row. He started the season strong; I want to see if he can get back to where he was.
Jonathan Santiago: Bargnani vs. the Kings bigs. Bargnani is having arguably an All-Star caliber season (something we’ll debate in a bit) and his perimeter-focused game could give the Kings big men trouble on defense. It wouldn’t surprise me if Keith Smart makes a gametime decision to start Jason Thompson over J.J. Hickson, who might be a better match-up defensively against the Italian forward.
2. Stat that decides the game…
Zarar Siddiqi: Total points scored by both teams.
James Herbert: Points in the paint. Toronto gives up the fewest points in the paint and Sacramento gives up the most. Toronto scores the second-fewest points in the paint and Sacramento scores the fifth-most. Something will have to give.
Jonathan Santiago: I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but once again it’ll be assists for the Kings. They only had 16 in last night’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
3. Fact or Fiction: Andrea Bargnani will make the 2012 Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
Zarar Siddiqi: Fiction. Not because of his numbers, but because the amount of team wins the Raptors will have. The teams for guys like Kevin Garnett, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, and even David West will have more wins, and that sways coaches. Remember, he’s listed as a forward this year.
James Herbert: Fiction. I agree with Dwane Casey’s assertion that Bargnani has been playing at an All-Star level this season, but I don’t think it will result in an All-Star berth. Your first selection usually happens a year after you earn it, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to nudge the more accomplished bigs out of his way just yet.
Jonathan Santiago: Fact. He’s won’t make the All-Star team through fan voting, but I think he could sneak in through the coaches’ vote. He is a top 10 scorer in the league right now and you can make the case he’s playing better than the usual suspects – Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, etc. His chances would be better if he were listed at center.