Hoping to avoid a fourth-straight home defeat, the Sacramento Kings host the Boston Celtics at Power Balance Pavilion.  Tonight’s game is the sixth game in a season-long nine-game homestand.
Gametime: 7 pm PST
Broadcast Information: Click here.
For perspective on the Celtics, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Celtics Hub.

Kings Probable Starters (14-29)

Isaiah ThomasMarcus ThorntonTyreke EvansJason ThompsonDeMarcus Cousins

Kings Head Coach Keith Smart was mum on the status of Tyreke Evans, who injured his left ankle Wednesday evening against the Detroit Pistons.

“We’ll see,” said Smart when asked if he would start or come off the bench in tonight’s game. “He went through treatment last night, did some work on it and then we’ll see how he works on it when we get ready for the game tonight.”

Following Wednesday’s game, x-rays came back negative and he was considered day-to-day.

Celtics Probable Starters (23-19)

Rajon RondoRay AllenPaul PierceBrandon BassKevin Garnett

Like the Kings, the Celtics made no moves at the NBA trade deadline.  There were trade rumors over the last few weeks involving the availability of starting point guard Rajon Rondo.  There was also a rumor the Celtics were interested in Kings’ big man J.J. Hickson.  Head Coach Doc Rivers addressed their alleged interest following morning shootaround.

3-on-3 Roundtable

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.

Brendan Jackson of Celtics Hub and Brett Koremenos of NBA Playbook join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Celtics game.

1. Match-up to watch?

Brendan Jackson: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Kevin Garnett. The Celtics have almost no-interior presence and get routinely out-rebounded and out-scored in the paint. Cousins could have a field day on the combination of Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Greg Stiemsma. On the flipside, there is no way Cousins will match KG’s intensity. I could easily see him letting discouragement seep in and overtaking his drive.

Brett Koremenos: Marcus Thornton and Ray Allen. Thornton’s big drawback is his ability to be a little spacey on D. If he isn’t totally locked in on Allen while Ray is running through his normal of gauntlet of half-court screens, it could be a long night for the Kings.

Jonathan Santiago:  DeMarcus Cousins vs. Kevin Garnett.  Cousins has had an outstanding sophomore campaign, but he’ll have his hands full against Garnett, who’s actually played better at center than power forward this season.  The Celtics are 11-4 when Garnett starts at center and he’s recorded eight of his 14 double-doubles this season playing the position.

2. Stat that decides the game…

Brendan Jackson: Since there’s no chance the Celtics out-rebound the Kings, I’ll say fast break points. If the Celtics can limit the Kings’ transition game while pushing the ball themselves, they should be able to handle the Kings easily.

Brett Koremenos: Rebounding. Boston ranks near the bottom in terms of rebound rate while Sacramento is one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the league. If the Kings generate a lot of extra possessions, they will have a good chance to come away with a win tonight.

Jonathan Santiago:  Kings’ offensive rebounds.  The Celtics are ranked 24th in defensive rebounding percentage.  They also allow roughly 40 points in the paint and 14 second-chance points per game.  Big nights on the glass from the Kings’ bigs will be needed for a Sacramento win.

3. Fact or Fiction: The Celtics and Kings were better off standing pat than making moves at the NBA trade deadline.

Brendan Jackson: Fiction. This could have really gone either way for these two teams. Neither Boston or Sacramento are destinations for big time free agents, so their best bet to contend is to build through trades (like Boston) or through the draft (like Sacramento). Either team could have benefited from a shake-up but there’s also still time to do so after this season. The Kings have a nice group of young players but those players have discernible flaws. It may have been wise to flip them for veterans. Boston, on the other hand, is likely to get mediocre before they get great so it may have been better to flip their veterans for some young players.

Brett Koremenos: Fact for the Kings. Fiction for the C’s. It’s hard to really know how big of a pain Rondo is to deal with, but if in reality he’s somewhat manageable, Boston should have moved Pierce’s contract in an attempt to fully start over around Rondo next off-season. The Kings, meanwhile, were just fine standing pat. They can use this last stretch of games to get a final assessment on what does and does not work with their current personnel and make any roster overhauls this summer. With all the turmoil in Sacramento this season, a quiet deadline was exactly what they needed.

Jonathan Santiago:  Fact for both.  The players Kings fans wanted to see moved don’t have any value on the open market.  So why make a deal just for the sake of making a deal if it wasn’t going to make your team better?  As far as the Celtics go, they’re in good shape salary-wise heading into the offseason.  They’ll have enough cap space along with talented players still under contract (Rondo and Pierce) to lure players to Boston via free agency.