OKC Thunder (11-36, 3-19 road) vs. Sacramento Kings (10-38, 7-16 home)
TV: KSBI-52 (Cox 9) FS Oklahoma (Cox 37)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Offensive Rating: Thunder: 102.2 (28th), Sacramento: 104.6 (25th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 108.9 (20th), Sacramento: 114.4 (30th)
Pace: Thunder: 93.6 (7th), Sacramento: 93.3 (8th)
What could make Super Sunday even more super? Why, a matchup between two basketball teams a combined 53 games under .500, that’s what!
These two teams haven’t met yet this year, so there’s nothing to go off of. Except for the fact we know they’re both, ahem, below average. But here’s the big stat: Sacramento hasn’t held an opponent to under 106 points their last 10 games. The Kings have lost eight in a row and 12 of 14. They’re the worst defensive team in the league, allowing opponents to over 48 percent from the field which ranks first (or last, depending on how you want to look at it) in the league. On top of it, they’re in the bottom 10 in field goal percentage themselves. In other words, they’re struggling. Mightily.
But as we’ve seen, the Thunder are known to come in with a lack of focus against very beatable teams. Especially with this one being on the road at 2 p.m. Oklahoma time and probably in front of about 25 people. So all the signs for an unfocused performance are there. But with a tough February schedule looming, OKC needs to take care of business in Sactown.
The Kings can’t stop anyone and here’s something – John Salmons is their second leading scorer. John Salmons! Kevin Martin is a handful and OKC would like to have Desmond Mason body him up and push him around, but without Dez, the Thunder’s going to look to Kyle Weaver and Russell Westbrook to try and handle that load. Because Earl Watson and Chucky Atkins will get absolutely abused by Martin if they try to match up. But I think Weaver might be able to frustrate Martin with his long arms and quick hands. The key is staying in front of him and going over screens and not underneath them. He’s going to get points – the key is limiting the complimentary pieces like… John Salmons. Hey, he is averaging over 18 a game.
Another “should-win” game, but this one is on the road. There’s no doubt OKC wins this one – probably by double-digits – if it’s focused and intense from the tip. But if they are loose with the ball (when are they not?), hoist bad shots and most importantly, play lazy, uninspired defense, we could see another Clippers-type letdown.
Don’t forget, 2 p.m. start time in Oklahoma, so get home from church, break out some chips and salsa, settle in on the sofa, watch the Thunder play, maybe get a little nap in during parts of it and get ready to watch that big football game that starts later that evening.