Boston: 107.4 points/100 possessions (14th)
Sacto: 105.4 points/100 possessions (20th)
Boston: 102.4 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Sacto: 109.7 points allowed/100 possessions (23rd)
Probable Sacto starters:
Beno Udrih, Donte Greene, Spencer Hawes, Carl Landry, Francisco Garcia
Thumbnail: There is no reason this game should be close.
WHAT THE KINGS DO WELL:
• Have Tyreke Evans. Too bad he’s out tonight with a concussion. Fantastic player.
• Offensive Rebounding. Only five teams rebound a higher percentage of their misses, but Sacto’s best offensive rebounder, Jon Brockman (The Brock Ness Monster, who actually leads the league in offensive rebounding rate) is out with a knee injury. The C’s have climbed to #10 in defensive rebounding percentage (which measures the percentage of opponent misses a team rebounds) after falling as low as #17. Let’s hope the trend continues tonight. Second-year forward Jason Thompson is a bouncy offensive rebounder when he wants to be.
• Finish at the rim. Well, at least Beno Udrih. As Tom Haberstroh at Hoopdata pointed out this week, Beno has his 72 percent of his shots at the rim this season, the best mark in the league among point guards. Yowza. The Kings attempt about 28 shots per game at the rim, a mark that is significantly above league average.
WHAT THE KINGS DO POORLY:
• Shoot free throws. They don’t attempt many considering their above-average pace of play, and only the Cavs and Pistons shoot a worse percentage from the line than Sacto (72.5 percent). Thompson, Spencer Hawes and Omri Casspi are all at 71 percent or worse in this category.
• Protect the defensive glass. The Kings’ offensive rebounding doesn’t translate over to the other end, where they rank #22 in defensive rebounding percentage. The C’s have generally been a poor offensive rebounding team—partly be design, partly due to personnel—but they’ve had some monster ORB games lately, including Wednesday against the Chicken Nuggets. Let’s see if Big Baby can bull his way to another big night on the offensive glass.
• Defend the rim. Teams hit 64 percent of their shots at the rim against Sacto, the 5th-worst mark in the league, per Hoopdata. (Context: Chicago is the stingiest at-the-rim D, holding opponents to about 56.6 percent on close shots).
• Protect the ball. Both the Kings (#22) and C’s (#29—kiss it, Bobcats!) are in the bottom 10 in the league in turnover rate, which measures the percentage of a team’s possessions that end in turnovers. This could be ugly.
PLAYER/S WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
• Donte Greene. An uber-athletic wing prone to the occasional offensive explosion, particularly when his three-pointers are falling. (He hits 36.9 percent from deep). A tough match-up for Pierce and/or Ray Allen.
• Carl Landry. One of my absolute favorite players in the league, even if he’s not nearly as good a rebounder as people think he is. (He’s pretty bad for a power forward, actually). But Landry works his ass off, can score in the lost post against anyone and comes back from gunshots and face-to-elbow collisions as if they were hang nails.
• Thompson. Inconsistent, occasionally dunder-headed. But he’s quicker than anyone on the C’s front line, and he put up a 14-11 in the teams’ first meeting this season. He and Greene could either combine for 40 points tonight or 10. Nothing would surprise me.
PLAYER/S WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
• Andres Nocioni. Count me among those who don’t think the C’s missed out on anything special by not dealing for Noc. If you like terrible shot selection and inconsistent defense, he’s your guy.
• Sean May. Still playing, somehow.
• Udrih. He won’t hit 72 percent of his shots at the rim tonight.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM THE C’S TONIGHT:
• Dominant D. Without Evans, the Kings just shouldn’t be able to score against a motivated Boston defense. Casspi and Greene did damage from deep against Boston (5-of-9 combined) in the teams’ first meeting this season, but the C’s should be able to control the interior without giving up good perimeter looks tonight.
• The Beast as a Threat. The Kings have no one who can deal with Perk’s size and strength in the post. Let’s see if Perk can continue his good run of play as we approach the post-season.
• Finley-Daniels-TA. We’re all waiting for the Grand Marquis to assert himself as the clear Alpha Dog among the back-up swing men.
Come on. 108-88, Boston.