Game 22 Preview: Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder

Jimmer Fredette drives against Kendrick Perkins in match-up vs. OKC. (Photo: Darren Hall)

Gametime: 5:00 pm PT

Where:  Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK.

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Thunder perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network affiliate Daily Thunder.

Sacramento Kings Probable Starters (7-14)

PG: Aaron Brooks
SG: Tyreke Evans
SF: John Salmons
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins

Oklahoma City Thunder Probable Starters (18-4)

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Thabo Sefolosha
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Kendrick Perkins

Three questions to ponder

1. What kind of performance will we see out of DeMarcus Cousins?

The last time Cousins returned to the court following suspension, he tallied just nine points, but grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out seven assists against the Atlanta Hawks. The Kings big man had been playing steadier before missing Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee.  In his previous four games, Cousins had been averaging 21.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.  He also had recorded double-doubles in three of those four contests.  The key for him is always whether he stays out of foul trouble.  Can he do that tonight against a loaded Thunder squad?

2. Can the Kings limit their fouls against the Thunder?

Sacramento is currently ranked sixth in the league in fouls committed this season and they don’t have the most sterling reputation among officials.  Keeping their cool and understanding that calls aren’t always going to go their way will be a factor in how well they play tonight.  Oklahoma City is an explosive team on offense and part of that has to do with their ability to convert from the charity stripe.  Currently, the Thunder are leading the league free-throw percentage, converting on 83 percent of their attempts from the line.

3. How will the Kings’ defense fair against the Thunder’s high-powered offense?

We’ve charted how the Kings defense has regressed since the start of the season.  And against an OKC team that’s won nine straight, they’ll need to buck that downward trend and bring their best defensive effort.  In addition to leading the NBA in free throw accuracy, the Thunder are tops when it comes to 3-point percentage (41.5 percent) and rank second behind only San Antonio in field-goal percentage (48.9 percent).  Prior to their win Wednesday over the New Orleans Hornets, the Thunder had scored 100 points or more in 12 consecutive games.  The Thunder’s offense goes as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go.  If the Kings hope to win tonight, limiting half of the Thunder’s duo below 20 points is a start.  Oklahoma City is 10-1 this year when Durant and Westbrook both score at least 20 in a game.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.