- When: Friday, 28 March 2014 at 7:00 PM EST
- Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
It’s games like these next two that make people complain about the length of the NBA schedule. A team that has already clinched a playoff spot versus two teams that are already playing for next season. Don’t get me wrong, though. This has nothing to do with the effort of the players. They are still giving their all (or giving enough to fake it). These types of games don’t offer much in the emotional investment department, unless you take into account caring about playoff seeding.
This is the third meeting of the year between the Thunder and the Sacramento Kings. The Thunder lead the season series 2-0. The first game was a back and forth affair that the Thunder won 97-95 in Sacramento. In the 2nd meeting, the Thunder took control of the game in the middle two quarters and cruised to a 108-93 victory.
The Kings currently sit at 25-46. They are in the middle of a weird rebuild. They have some pieces to build off of (DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore), but most everyone else on the team is in flux. To combat the youth of some of the key players on the team, the front office made some moves to obtain some veteran presence in Rudy Gay, Jason Terry, and Reggie Evans. The Kings are middle of the pack offensively (101.3 ppg, 13th in the NBA), but terrible defensively (103.6 ppg, 26th in the NBA). The team is a collective of isolation players as evidenced by their team assist totals (19 per game, last in the NBA). Isaiah Thomas does a good job as an attacking point guard, but acts more like an extremely undersized shooting guard at times. DeMarcus Cousins is finally starting to show some of the potential that tantalized many teams when he came out of Kentucky 4 seasons ago. He has transformed himself into a 20/10 guy. Rudy Gay is Rudy Gay: inefficient volume scorer who offers little else. The bench is a lot like the team itself: a weird mix of veterans and young players that doesn’t quite fit.
Probable Starting Line-ups
- PG – Isaiah Thomas
- SG – Ben McLemore
- SF – Rudy Gay
- PF – Reggie Evans
- C – DeMarcus Cousins
Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG – Russell Westbrook
- SG – Andre Roberson
- SF – Kevin Durant
- PF – Serge Ibaka
- C – Steven Adams
3 Keys to the Game
1. Tempering the Hot Hand – While its true that the Kings are inconsistent, their scorers are streaky and can heat up pretty quickly. Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas, and DeMarcus Cousins all have the ability to light a defense up for 20 or more points. And we all know the Thunder are the team to play if you want to score a new career high.
2. Rebounding – With Reggie Evans and DeMarcus Cousins up front, one of the things this team does well is rebound. Giving a bad team more opportunities to score is never a recipe for success. Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collison have to make it a point to box out and keep the Kings off the glass.
3. Russ post-ups – Whether its Thomas or Ray McCallum, this should be a game where the Russell Westbrook post-up comes into play. Westbrook is too tall (Thomas) and/or too strong (McCallum) for either of these players to handle.