Game 81 Preview: Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder

John Salmons defends Kevin Durant. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Gametime: 5:00 pm PT

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK.

Broadcast Information: TV – Comcast SportsNet, Radio – CBS Sports 1140

For Thunder perspective, visit TrueHoop Network Affiliate Daily Thunder.

The book on the Thunder:  Oklahoma City is the NBA’s model small market of the moment.  Since the 2008-09 season, the Thunder has missed the playoffs just once.  OKC boasts one of the toughest home court advantages in the NBA and has sold out all 38 of their games at Chesapeake this season.

Did you know?  With a victory tonight, the Thunder can post its first 60-win season in Oklahoma City history.

Sacramento Kings Probable Starters (28-52)

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Tyreke Evans
SF: John Salmons
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins

Houston Rockets Probable Starters (59-21)

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

C: Hasheem Thabeet

Stats

Kings

  • Points Per Game: 100.2
  • Offensive Rating: 103
  • Opponents Points Per Game: 104.2
  • Defensive Rating: 108.5
  • Pace: 96.3

Thunder

  • Points Per Game: 105.1
  • Offensive Rating: 110.3
  • Opponents Points Per Game: 95.8
  • Defensive Rating: 99.2
  • Pace: 95.96

Three questions to ponder

1.  Will DeMarcus Cousins play?

The Kings starting center was assessed his 16th technical foul of the season last night, meaning an automatic suspension is in order. However, it came from a questionable call from referee Violet Palmer that happened in the first quarter of yesterday’s loss to the Rockets. Cousins lightly shoved Rockets power forward Greg Smith, who ran into the Kings big man following a made basket.  Jason Jones of Sacramento Bee reports that Palmer apologized to Cousins for the call, but will the NBA rescind the call?

2.  If Cousins doesn’t play, which Kings big man steps up in his absence?

Patrick Patterson will likely start if Cousins isn’t available.  He hasn’t been himself since missing two games with a sore lower back, averaging just nine points on 39 percent shooting from the field in his last three outings.  Jason Thompson has played better and Cole Aldrich has been a pleasant surprise since arriving in Sacramento.  Chuck Hayes is always a reliable option, but his playing time has fluctuated at the tail end of the season.

3.  Will it be another night of listless basketball for the Kings? 

After yesterday’s game, Isaiah Thomas told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee that the Kings’ starts to their last two outings have been “the definition of a losing team”.  Against an Oklahoma City Thunder squad that’s 33-6 at home, the Kings are in trouble.  Remember, this is a Sacramento team that has won just eight road games all season long.

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.