Game 50 Preview: Kings vs. Spurs

A brief two-game road trip yielded no wins for the Sacramento Kings.  They return to Power Balance Pavilion tonight with a match-up against the San Antonio Spurs, one of the Western Conference’s elite teams.

Gametime: 7:00 pm PST
Broadcast Information: Click here.
For Spurs perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog 48 Minutes of Hell.

Kings Probable Starters (17-32)

Isaiah Thomas Marcus Thornton Tyreke Evans Donte Greene DeMarcus Cousins

John Salmons will not play after injuring his hip during Monday’s game against the Houston Rockets.  And after missing the last two games with an injured left ankle, Jason Thompson’s status remains questionable.  He is likely a gametime decision.

Spurs Probable Starters (34-14)

Tony Parker Danny Green Kawhi Leonard Tim Duncan DeJuan Blair

The Spurs were an abysmal road team to start the season.  In their first 10 games away from the AT&T Center, San Antonio posted a 2-8 record.  Since then, they’ve won 12 of their last 14 road contests, including a victory yesterday against the Phoenix Suns.  San Antonio is 13-9 overall this year in back-to-back sets.

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.

Andrew McNeill and Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Spurs match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Andrew McNeill: I’d like to say the rebounding matchup between DeJuan Blair and the Kings’ bigs. Blair struggles with bigger, longer players, and the Kings frontline fits that criteria. If the Spurs are without Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, winning the rebounding battle becomes key.

Timothy Varner: From a Spurs perspective, the head-to-head match-ups are rarely important. The more important thing to watch is what combination of players Popovich uses during the game. The Spurs recently won all three games of a back-to-back-to-back, which was amazing given that many of the player combinations had never been used before. With the additions of Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson, not to mention Pop’s willingness to rest guys on a whim, the Spurs’ offense is a little turnover prone right now. The Kings could take advantage of San Antonio’s still developing chemistry by forcing turnovers. 

Jonathan Santiago: Terrence Williams vs. Manu Ginobili.  Did I just pick match-up between a guy signed to a 10-day contract against a perennial sixth man of the year candidate?  Yes.  With Salmons out due to injury, I expect Williams to play some critical minutes off the bench.

2. Stat that decides the game..

Andrew McNeill: I usually like to go with defensive field goal percentage. It’s one of Coach Pop’s (only) favorite statistics and really, if you have to pick just one stat to focus on, it’s a pretty good barometer of how you’re doing.

Timothy Varner: Rebounds and turnovers. The Spurs are hard to beat when they control the boards and limit their mistakes. 

Jonathan Santiago: Fast break points.  In Monday’s loss to the Rockets, the Kings scored 14 fast break points in the first quarter, but recorded only 14 more the rest of the game.  Consistent effort in transition usually keeps games close for the Kings.

3. Tim Duncan: will he sit or will he play?

Andrew McNeill: Considering he played 32 minutes last night and the Spurs are on their fifth game in six nights (even though Duncan already sat out one of those), I’d guess Duncan rests. The Spurs don’t play again until Saturday, so three days of rest could be big.

Timothy Varner: Tim Duncan should play. His recent night off corresponded with the third game of a back-to-back-to-back. He’s too old for that kind of silliness. 

Jonathan Santiago: Duncan has only missed four games this season.  He’s probably a go for tonight, but after playing 30-plus minutes yesterday in Phoenix, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gregg Popovich limits his time against the Kings.  This could be a good opportunity for Boris Diaw, their newest pick-up, to work on his conditioning.


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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.