Game 30 Preview: Sacramento Kings vs. Boston Celtics

Kevin Garnett shoots over DeMarcus Cousins. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Gametime: 6:00 pm PT

Where:  Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA.

Broadcast Information: TV – Comcast SportsNet California, Radio – 1140 The Fan

For Celtics perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network affiliate Celtics Hub.

The book on the Celtics:  A quarter of the way through the NBA season, Boston has struggled with inconsistent play.  They’re 4-6 in their last 10 and for the first time since early November, they’ve fallen below .500.  They’ve also been annihilated by the competition on their three-game California road trip.  The Celtics have averaged just 80 points in their last two contests and lost in blowout fashion to both the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers.

Did you know?  Until Friday’s stunning victory at the buzzer, James Johnson was 0-for-11 from 3-point land this season.  Before Friday, the last time Johnson made a 3-pointer in the regular season was Apr. 18, 2012 in the Toronto Raptors’ blowout loss to the Miami Heat.

Status Updates: Tyreke Evans is day-to-day with soreness in his left knee

Sacramento Kings Probable Starters (10-19)

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Marcus Thornton
SF: John Salmons
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins

Boston Celtics Probable Starters (14-15)

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Jason Terry
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Jason Collins

Stats and Rankings

Kings

  • Points Per Game: 96.1 (16th out of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.2 (21st out of 30)
  • Opponents Points Per Game: 101.2 (3rd out of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.0 (29th out of 30)
  • Pace: 94.9 (12th out of 30)

Celtics

  • Points Per Game: 95.9 (17th out of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.4 (20th  out of 30)
  • Opponents Points Per Game: 95.4 (20th out of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.4 (12th out of 30)
  • Pace: 93.77 (19th out of 30)

Three questions to ponder

1.  Will Tyreke Evans return to the lineup?

The Kings starting shooting guard has missed 11 games because of a nagging left knee injury.  On Thursday, he targeted today’s game against the Celtics as his potential return to the court.  A major problem with his knee has been its tendency to swell up after heavy work.  A comeback to today’s lineup weighs heavily on his recovery from yesterday’s practice.

2.  Can the Kings push the tempo against the Celtics?

Against an aging Celtics team, playing with speed and frenetic pace will be key for a Kings’ victory.  The Celtics are playing tired, having lost the first two games of their west coast road trip.  This is also their second contest in as many nights, so the Kings have the advantage of rest on their side.  Ball movement will also be key and to do that, the Kings must continue to play with good spacing.  They’ve recorded 28 or more assists in their last three games due to players working in the right spots.

3.  Will James Johnson continue to see more minutes at power forward?

After being benched following his start to the season at small forward, Johnson has transitioned into a new role for the Kings.  Lately, Keith Smart has used the 25-year-old at power forward instead of the wing and Johnson has seemed to thrive.  In the Kings’ last four games, Johnson has averaged 23 minutes per contest and shot a respectable 45 percent from the field.  His shooting percentage during that stretch is a far cry from the 39.5 percent that the fourth-year forward is averaging overall this season.  His improved play has come at the expensive of Thomas Robinson, who earned the first DNP-CD of his career Friday night.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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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.