Game 63 Preview: Kings vs. Thunder

The Sacramento Kings play two of their next three games against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  On the heels of the failed arena deal, Oklahoma City walloped Sacramento in their previous meeting just one week ago.

Gametime: 7:00 pm PST

Broadcast Information:  Click here.

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

Kings Probable Starters (20-42)

Isaiah Thomas Marcus Thornton Tyreke Evans Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

Terrence Williams rolled an ankle during practice yesterday.  Head Coach Keith Smart said the injury was not serious and it shouldn’t keep him out of tonight’s game.  Marcus Thornton did not practice yesterday after suffering a left-quad contusion.  His status tonight is questionable.

Thunder Probable Starters (44-17)

Russell Westbrook Thabo Sefolosha Kevin Durant Serge Ibaka Kendrick Perkins

Oklahoma City is fighting for home court advantage throughout the Western Conference Playoffs.  At just a half-game back behind the Spurs, they can’t afford a loss tonight.  James Harden exploded for a career-high 40 points on an incredibly efficient 12-of-17 shooting in the Thunder’s previous game against the Phoenix Suns.

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.

Royce Young of Daily Thunder and Danny Chau of Hardwood Paroxysm join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Thunder match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Royce Young: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Kendrick Perkins/Serge Ibaka. Cousins is definitely the most threatening player to OKC on the Sacramento roster and has the potential to put up an easy double-double. The Thunder will likely throw both Perkins and Ibaka at Cousins at different times, so it’s about pushing him outside and making sure he doesn’t get easy points in the paint.

Danny Chau: DeMarcus Cousins and Serge Ibaka. It won’t be a duel in the traditional sense, as Ibaka isn’t the most dynamic offensive player, but it’ll be interesting to see how Cousins responds to the Thunder interior defense on the third go-around. In the two previous outings, Cousins has shot terribly from the field while Ibaka has averaged an unfathomable 8.5 blocks.

Jonathan Santiago:  Isaiah Thomas vs. Russell Westbrook.  The Kings’ rookie is quick enough to keep up with Westbrook, but will the Thunder guard overpower Thomas with his size and strength?

2. Stat that decides the game…

Royce Young: Turnovers. If OKC starts giving the ball away a lot — more than 20 times, I mean — it could cost them. It’s how the Kings beat the Thunder in the first matchup in Sacramento.

Danny Chau:  Offensive rebounds. The Kings will go through rough patches on offense, but if they can win the rebounding battle and get enough second-chance opportunities, they have enough potential firepower (on good nights) to make the game competitive. The Kings had more than twice the offensive rebounds in their victory against OKC than last week’s brutal defeat.

Jonathan Santiago:  Turnovers.  If the Kings are forcing turnovers, the fast break is sure to follow.  The Kings’ lead the league in pace and are horrible when forced to run half court sets.

3. Fact or Fiction: James Harden and Tyreke Evans will both be playing for the Thunder and Kings, respectively beyond 2013.

Royce Young: Fiction. Harden will be in Oklahoma City for sure, but I’m not so sure about Evans. If he can bounce back, stay healthy and play well over the next year, his trade value might rise high enough that the Kings feel they get good enough return on him and use the new assets to build around a different batch of players. Evans is obviously an incredibly talented player, but his fit with the Kings is certainly in question.

Danny Chau:  Fiction. I think it would take a lot for Evans to stay. Two years ago he was exactly the player the Kings wanted, but now he isn’t close to being the player they need. As for Harden, it’s impossible to ignore his ascent, but it breaks my heart to think that the Thunder’s immaculate core could be split apart.

Jonathan Santiago:  Fiction.  The Thunder will find some way to keep Harden, even if it means dealing Westbrook in the process.  As far as Evans goes, I was sold on him playing small forward in the short term simply because they’ve had no one better, but I’m not sold on him playing the spot long term.  I can see them taking a chance on a small forward in the draft this time around after passing on Kawhi Leonard last year.


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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.