Game 32 Preview: Kings at Heat

Two teams going in two different directions.  The Sacramento Kings try to avoid a season-high six-game losing streak, while the Miami Heat hope to continue a season-long win streak.  Tonight, the two teams meet in a squabble on South Beach.

Gametime: 4:30 pm PT

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Heat perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Heat Index.

Kings Probable Starters (10-21)

Isaiah Thomas Marcus Thornton Tyreke Evans Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

The Kings are 0-2 since Isaiah Thomas took over as starting point guard, but the Kings rookie hasn’t been the problem.  In his two starts, Thomas has averaged 18 points, 7.5 assists and six rebounds and shot 50-precent from beyond the arc.  The Kings have picked up the pace and the offense has become more fluid with Thomas running the show.  It was poor decision-making by Thomas’ teammates late that cost the Kings two winnable games against the Pistons and Cavaliers.

Heat Probable Starters (25-7)

Mario Chalmers
Dwyane Wade LeBron James Chris Bosh Joel Anthony

Outside of the San Antonio Spurs, is there any other team playing better basketball?  In five of their six-consecutive wins, Miami won by a margin of 10 or more and scored at least 100 points.  LeBron James is making another strong case for MVP.  After averaging 27.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists on 62.4-percent shooting from the field, James was just named NBA Player of the Week.

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.

Rafe Bartholomew of Grantland and Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Heat match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Rafe Bartholomew: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Joel Anthony. Yep, I’m just trying to be different. Cousins is undeniably the more talented big man, and he could still have a bright NBA future. But right now, he looks like the kind of guy who will never be on a title-contender like Miami — the meaner version of Shareef Abdur-Rahim (OK, there’s a difference — Cousins rebounds well). Anthony is never going to put up Cousins’ numbers, but he defends the high screens well and makes a consistent effort to protect the rim. Anything else he gives the Heat is gravy.

Matt Moore: Thornton vs. Wade. I watched Thornton the first time he ever had to guard him (preseason Hornets-Heat in Kansas City) and it was fascinating. Thornton’s honestly faded defensively when he’s got some good instincts there. But that’s a match-up where it could turn into quite a shootout. Granted the Heat will be up 30. But still.

Jonathan Santiago: LeBron James vs. Tyreke Evans.  The Kings guard usually poses match-up problems for opponents, but at small forward, that advantage disappears tonight.  I expect James, who was just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, to continue his hot play against Evans.

2. Stat that decides the game.

Rafe Bartholomew: I don’t know if this passes for a stat in this day and age, but 17-3. That’s the Heat’s record since January 17. This team is on a tear, they’re playing at home, and the Kings aren’t beating them there. But since that’s so simple, there’s also this: the Kings are 27th in the league with 4.26 blocks per game, and LeBron  James and Dwyane Wade have been attacking the basket with renewed vigor this season. Somebody’s getting banged on in this game.

Matt Moore: DeMarcus Cousins personal fouls. DMC has been beasting. He has to stay out of foul trouble so he can stay on the floor and flummox Beal while punishing the Heat inside. If there was ever a game where DMC needs to go off, it’s this one. And he has to stay on the floor to do that.

Jonathan Santiago: Fastbreak points.  This game could get of control quickly if the Kings don’t play good transition defense from the jump against the Heat.

3. Better rookie fit for his respective team: Isaiah Thomas for the Kings or Norris Cole for the Heat?

Rafe Bartholomew: In a battle of guys who look like career back-ups (especially in this golden age of point guards), I’ll take a gamer like Thomas.

Matt Moore: Isaiah Thomas.  He’s honestly been more consistent. He has the same effort and focus each time he steps on the floor, versus Cole who can drift and then look brilliant. I kind of hope for a blowout so we see a lot of these two against each other late in the game.

Jonathan Santiago: I think both rookies are great fits for their respective teams.  The Kings are a much better team with a true point guard running the offense and that’s exactly the kind of player Thomas is.  With James and Wade shouldering most of the Heat’s ballhandling responsibilities, a shoot-first guard like Norris Cole is a great compliment.

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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.