The Sacramento Kings attempt to end a four-game losing skid against the team that started the bleeding – the Utah Jazz.
Kings Probable Starters (17-33)
|Isaiah Thomas||Marcus Thornton||Tyreke Evans||Jason Thompson||DeMarcus Cousins|
The Kings have lost four straight, but each contest has been decided by an average margin of four points. As typical with a young team, the Kings have struggled with decision-making, which has led to their downfall in these last four games.
Jazz Probable Starters (27-24)
|Devin Harris||Gordon Hayward||C.J. Miles||Paul Millsap||Al Jefferson|
The Utah Jazz have been on a tear following All-Star Break. It took a quadruple overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks to break a six-game Jazz win streak, which included a victory over the Kings last Thursday.
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?
Nick Smith: DeMarcus Cousins vs Devin Harris? I know this isn’t an official match up, but DMC has been noticeably irritated (and T’d up) by Harris in the three Utah/Sac matchups this year. Cousins’ quote after last week’s close loss to Utah of “I don’t know what his issue is, but I can definitely solve it…”makes this the “matchup” of the night for me.
Jackson Rudd: C.J. Miles vs. Marcus Thornton or Tyreke Evans. Jazz coach Ty Corbin has a tough decision to make in whether he will have Gordon Hayward guard Thornton or Evans, because whoever he doesn’t choose will be subjected to the inconsistent ups and downs of C.J. Miles’ defense. If Miles can do a reasonable job contesting most of the looks that Thornton or Evans get, scoring will become much more of a burden for the Kings. If he doesn’t, then one of the Kings’ dynamic wings will have a field day.
Jonathan Santiago: Derrick Favors vs. the Kings’ bigs. With Paul Millsap struggling yet again against the Kings, Favors was the difference for the Jazz in their win a week ago in Sacramento. He came off the bench and recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action.
2. Stat that decides the game…
Nick Smith: Al Jefferson’s shooting percentage. Utah is a different monster when Al Jefferson is scoring efficiently. In Jefferson’s most efficient season of his career, Cousins has bothered him to a 5-13 and a 6-14 performance, probably a big reason why Utah always struggles with the Kings. If Jefferson shoots over 50 percent, Utah usually wins.
Jackson Rudd: This has to be DeMarcus Cousins’ rebounds. He’s pulled down 18 boards the last two times these teams played each other, a stat that swung the February contest and sparked the Kings’ comeback last week. If Cousins owns the glass again, this game is going to come down to the wire.
Jonathan Santiago: Paul Millsap’s production. In three games, Millsap has averaged just 6.7 points and 7.7 rebounds against the Kings this year. If he breaks that trend, I could see the Kings losing handedly.
3. Do you expect Jimmer-mania to be alive and well at EnergySolutions Arena tonight?
Nick Smith: Jimmer could be in street clothes sitting behind the bench plagued by a season ending injury and the mania would be alive and kicking. This game could be the most marketed game in the history of the world for an opponent that’s 17-33. Everyone wants their Jimmer.
Jackson Rudd: It seems like Jimmer-mania is reaching its awkward, adolescent phase right now. Of course, if Jimmer finds his stride in the NBA, it will kick back up, but it would also kick back up with an ironic twist if he stays in his current state of irrelevancy. As it currently stands, no one is sure how to frame Jimmer-mania so I expect it to be a few notches lower from January’s circus.
Jonathan Santiago: Local radio stations in Salt Lake City have called us at Cowbell Kingdom to provide Jimmer updates throughout the season. And have you seen the commentary piece James Ham wrote about Jimmer earlier this week? With 100-plus comments and counting, it’s far and away the most discussed post this season. So yes, I expect Jimmer-mania to run wild tonight at EnergySolutions.