February 9, 2018, 2:57 pm
The Kings are set for a post-deadline battle with the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, a team they’ve faced twice already this season.
The two teams played each other on back-to-back nights in mid-November and they split both games. The Kings won in Sacramento 86-82, while the Blazers took the game in Portland 102-90.
The Kings will be coming into tonight’s game with a slightly different roster. The team traded George Hill to the Cleveland Cavaliers and received Iman Shumpert and a second round pick. In addition to that, Sacramento also received Joe Johnson from the Jazz as part of the three-team deal.
Johnson is expected to pursue a buyout with the Kings, per multiple reports, so he’s not likely to stick around.
Whilst veterans Vince Carter, Kosta Koufos and Garrett Temple all reportedly received interest on the trade market, they will all remain with the team for the time being.
In regards to tonight’s game, De’Aaron Fox is expected to get a ton of minutes with Frank Mason (heel) still on the sidelines. Fox is the only healthy point guard on the roster, but Dave Joerger will likely play Temple and Bogdan Bogdanovic at the point too.
It’s going to be a tough matchup for the Kings against one of the best backcourts in the league. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum present a handful of challenges that Sacramento will have to deal with, and their ability to make shots is certainly going to test the likes of Fox, Hield and Bogdanovic.
The Blazers currently sit seventh in the Western Conference but have proven to be a hot and cold team. They rank dead last in assists per game at 19.2, but this comes as no real surprise when you have two incredible shot makers on the roster. Defensively, the Blazers have done a pretty good job this season, limiting opposing teams to just 103.6 points per game which is the eighth best mark in the league.
The fact that Sacramento only averages 98.4 points per game, last in the NBA, isn’t a good sign when going up against a sturdy defensive unit. They’ll have to figure out a way to attack the Blazers with the personnel they have on offer. Willie Cauley-Stein led the Kings in scoring in both prior meetings with the Blazers, so he could be someone they turn to again tonight.
If it wasn’t already clear, the Kings are committed to their youth moving forward and have firmly handed Fox the keys to the offense. There may not be many wins on the horizon for this team, but the expectation is that it’ll be fun.
New players Shumpert and Caboclo are not expected to be available for tonight’s game.
PG – De’Aaron Fox
SG – Garrett Temple
SF – Bogdan Bogdanovic
PF – Zach Randolph
C – Willie Cauley-Stein
Frank Mason (heel) – OUT
Skal Labissiere (shoulder) – OUT
Iman Shumpert (foot, traded) – OUT
Bruno Caboclo (traded) – OUT
HOW TO WATCH
When: 7:30 p.m. PST (10:30 p.m. ET)
Where: NBCS California