Sacramento Kings (5-18, 2-8 road) vs. OKC Thunder (18-8, 9-4)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.4 (10th), Kings– 102.3 (26th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.5 (18th), Kings – 109.7 (21st)
Pace: Thunder – 93.0 (13th), Kings – 92.6 (16th)
View from the enemy: Cowbell Kingdom
All for another easy victory, a show of hands. Everyone? Everybody is good with that? Sounds good. The Kings come in as one of the worst teams in the league at 5-18 and losers of their last 15 of 17. Their best player is battling a painful foot injury, their rookie is already disgruntled and right now, they lack a go-to scorer.
But guess what? That doesn’t necessarily mean this will be easy.
Sacramento coming in: I just mentioned it, but they’ve lost 15 of 17 after starting 3-1. They’re 1-9 in their last 10 and are 2-8 on the road.
Because Tyreke Evans isn’t entirely himself right now, OKC really has an edge most everywhere. Beno Udrih will struggle with Russell Westbrook. Donte Green, while long and athletic, shouldn’t be able to handle Kevin Durant. Jason Thompson is a decent power forward, but Jeff Green is a better athlete and scorer.
And with Evans hobbled and OKC’s best defender in Thabo checking him, the Kings might not have an edge – or at least a big one – anywhere. I do kind of like what the Kings have in their second unit with Carl Landry, Omri Casspi and Francisco Garcia, but all three of those guys haven’t played especially well this season.
Nenad Krstic will miss again so that means Serge Ibaka will be on the rookie DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins can be one of the best post players in the league, but he’s yet to really put anything together. Cousins is a load so the lighter Ibaka will definitely have to man up tonight.
A big first half run could bury the Kings early, but if the Thunder messes around too much, they could find themselves in a dogfight. Sacramento still has some players. They still work hard. But if OKC defends and keeps playing with a little swagger and flow, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a 10-point margin in the end.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go T.H.U.N.D.E.R.