John Salmons and Isaiah Thomas get caught on a defensive switch vs. Boston Celtics (Photo: Steven Chea)

The Sacramento Kings welcome the Boston Celtics for their once yearly visit to Sleep Train Arena today.  The Kings come into tonight’s game still buzzing over Friday’s dramatic win over the New York Knicks.  The Celtics, on the other hand, hope to salvage the final contest of an unsuccessful three-game trip through the golden state.

Against a veteran team like the Celtics, the Kings will look to push the tempo and use their fresh legs to their advantage.  Kings coach Keith Smart told media after practice yesterday that limiting the scoring opportunities of Boston’s go-to-guys will be crucial.

We can’t allow them to have a break.  We can’t allow Paul Pierce or guys like that to play at a high level right off the bat.  We have to control the tempo of the game and make it our tempo.  And I think we’ve done a good job of that.  Now we have to hang onto that tempo.  Once we establish how we’re playing, we gotta maintain that.

From his years spent in the Eastern Conference, veteran small forward John Salmons been in many battles with the Celtics.  Who can forget that epic seven-game series Salmons and the Chicago Bulls played against Boston back in 2009?  Just like then, Salmons will find himself going toe-to-toe with Paul Pierce, who has always been one of the Kings small forward’s most challenging assignments.

He’s tough because you have to honor every move he does.  A lot of guys, they’re one dimensional, you can take away certain things.  But with him, he has so many different moves and shots that he can make.  You gotta honor pretty much every fake, so it’s hard to stay in front of him.

Tip-off between the Kings and Celtics is set for 6 pm at Sleep Train Arena.  Follow Cowbell Kingdom for continued pre and postgame coverage throughout the day.

Hat-tip Alex Kramers/Kings.com for sharing audio from yesterday’s practice session.