January 29, 2017, 8:14 pm
With just two games left in their monster eight game road trip, the Kings look to close it out strong before heading home to finish off the week. The Kings come in having won three of their last four games and they could very easily be on a five game win streak. Nonetheless, Sacramento’s play as of late has been impressive and it seems they are starting to turn a corner.
The Kings have some winnable games this week but they also have a couple of tough ones which will really put their cohesion to the test. They showed consistency and coherency last week in a time of need and it will be interesting to see if that continues in another slate of four games this week.
Monday, January 30 – @ Philadelphia 76ers (17-29)
This game wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for the poor court conditions late last year when the Kings were first meant to play the Sixers. However, here we are in the final meeting between the two teams. These two teams played back in December in Sacramento where the Kings edged out a, 102-100 victory over the young Sixers squad.
This is a different Sixers team from the last time they met. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and they are making waves in the Eastern Conference with their impressive play. Joel Embiid is being considered questionable after not playing on Sunday against the Bulls but all signs point to him playing which will set the stage for yet another entertaining showdown between him and DeMarcus Cousins. This is a game the Kings should, and need to win if they want to continue their trek towards the playoffs especially with the Nuggets’ stellar play of late.
Tuesday, January 31 – @ Houston Rockets (35-16)
The Kings have already dropped two games to the Rockets this season and they weren’t pretty. Both games resulted in blowouts, and ugly blowouts at that. The Kings don’t matchup well with the Rockets due to their poor perimeter defense which plays right into the strengths of the offensive juggernaut that is the Houston Rockets.
Don’t count the Kings out completely, but this will be tough. They will need DeMarcus Cousins to have a monster game as well as some solid bench play. Dave Joerger will need to make sure he puts Garrett Temple on James Harden all night long if he wants any slither of success. Shutting down Harden is the first step and Temple has proven he can do it after the two previous meetings.
It seems so simple but if the Kings game plan effectively and run the Rockets off the three-point line they will win this game. On top of that, the Rockets are 4-6 in their last 10 games so they are in a bit of a slump.
Friday, February 3 – vs. Phoenix Suns (15-32)
This will only be the second meeting between the two teams since they first met at the beginning of the season. The Kings dominated in that one winning, 113-94 in Phoenix. The Suns sit last in the Western Conference but it’s no reason for the Kings to overlook them.
The Suns can show up when they want to especially when they possess fire power like Eric Bledsoe. It’s a long shot that this happens, but all Joerger needs to do here is put Garrett Temple on Bledsoe and that will completely lock down the Suns offense. Bledsoe is the Suns’ heart and soul so once you take him out of the equation they don’t have much else.
This can be considered a trap game for the Kings so they need to watch out. With the Golden State Warriors coming into town the following night, it makes it essential to get a win against this struggling Suns outfit and move onto the immense challenge that is the Warriors.
Saturday, February 4 – vs. Golden State Warriors (40-7)
This will be the toughest game of the week without a doubt. The Warriors come in with nine wins in their last 10 games and they seem to be at their peak. The Kings have already lost to the Warriors in Sacramento back on January 8, 117-106. The Kings actually put up a solid fight in the first meeting and they were leading at half time believe it or not. However, the Warriors woke up in the second half and pulled away.
Defense will be key in this one. The Kings did a good job last time with limiting the Warriors’ open shots and they really made them work on offense. They will need to do more of the same this time around and they will need DeMarcus Cousins to keep his head, unlike last time when he erupted on the bench which essentially stalled the Kings’ momentum. Sacramento will have to be near perfect to win this one but they have shown they aren’t afraid to back down
Three Keys for the Week:
- A solid game plan – This really should be the case every night but it will be extra important this week if the Kings want any chance of knocking off the Rockets or Warriors. Defensive match ups will be crucial, namely putting Garrett Temple on the other teams’ primary offensive options and also a team effort on running teams off the three-point line. It’s on both Dave Joerger and the team itself to execute on both ends as strategy is a big factor when trying to beat top-tier teams.
- Darren Collison – Collison lit it up last week and proved he has what it takes to be the Kings’ second scoring option. It would be a surprise to see him shoot over 60 percent again, but he needs to continue to hit his open shots that DeMarcus Cousins gives him while also creating his own shots when needed. Without Darren Collison’s play last week, the Kings may not have been as successful as they were.
- A reliable bench – Another factor in the Kings’ solid play last week was how effective their bench was when called upon. Guys like Ty Lawson, Malachi Richardson, Anthony Tolliver and Willie Cauley-Stein really stepped up and they all compliment each others skill sets perfectly. Matt Barnes would be the outcast here as his poor play holds this unit back. The less minutes he gets the more effective this unit will be. Omri Casspi may return this week to solve that problem.
Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) – Out for the season
Omri Casspi (strained calf) – Day-to-day, could return this week