- When: Tuesday, 08 April 2014 at 9:00 PM CST
- Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
Two weeks ago, it appeared that the Thunder would battle the San Antonio Spurs for Western Conference supremacy at best or stroll into the 2 seed at worst. Now, with losses in 3 of their last 4 games, the Thunder find themselves in an all-out sprint with the Los Angeles Clippers for the number 2 seed in the conference. The Clippers are just a game back in the standings by virtue of having played two more games (and consequently, having two more losses) than the Thunder.
The Thunder have a bad habit of battling complacency in games that aren’t of much import to them, and then turning it on in games they deem important (Miami, San Antonio, Clippers, Portland). These last 6 games will be a great test to see if the team is mentally “there” heading into the playoffs.
This will be the fourth and final meeting of the year between the Kings and Thunder. The Thunder have won each the 3 previous meetings this season by an average of 10 points, but only beat the Kings by 2 when they played in Sacramento early in the season.
The Kings currently sit at 27-50, and are looking towards next season. In hand, they already have 2 important pieces as the team moves forward. Ben McLemore is still finding his way in the NBA in this, his rookie season. DeMarcus Cousins, though, is showing everyone what his combination of skill and athleticism, along with finally showing signs of maturity, can lead to. And what it’s led to is a player that leads his team in scoring (22.3), rebounding (11.6), steals (1.5), and blocks (1.3). Unfortunately, the rest of the team is not very good. Rudy Gay gives you about 20 points of game, but is inefficient and gives you little else in the form of defense or playmaking. Isaiah Thomas does a good job of attacking the teeth of the defense, but is probably out for the rest of the season with a quad injury.
Probable Starting Line-Ups
- PG – Ray McCallum
- SG – Ben McLemore
- SF – Rudy Gay
- PF – Reggie Evans
- C – DeMarcus Cousins
Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG – Reggie Jackson
- SG – Andre Roberson
- SF – Kevin Durant
- PF – Serge Ibaka
- C – Steven Adams
3 Keys to the Game
1. Trap Game Potential – With the Clippers game on tap for tomorrow, this game has trap game written all over it. I’m pretty sure the Thunder know what’s at stake, and what they have to do to maintain their seeding.
2. DeMarcus Cousins – With Isaiah Thomas out, this is the only player the Thunder really have to fear on the Kings. Steven Adams did a good job defending Cousins the last time they played, but will have to stay away from the fouls.
3. Rebounding – Cousins, Evans, and Jason Thompson all have a knack for getting to rebounds. If there is one way the Kings can hang around in this game, its by grabbing offensive rebounds and extending possessions.