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Sacto For the Middle Game

This is not a trap game. There is no such thing as a trap game when you're still in the process of proving yourself, proving you really deserve the national accolades you're just now starting to get. This is just a game against a bad team. A game you have to win, no matter what the situation may be.

I have a theory about the Kings, and it's not one that's widely held. My feelings on the DeMarcus Cousins debacle are well-documented, but they only scratch the tip of the iceberg. You see, the Kings have a former rookie of the year, they have their big center and they everyone's second-favorite young, white, wholesome professional athlete. They're seen as a team with a bright future by some. To me, the three players they're "building" around aren't very good basketball players. Not very good at all.

Evans played with a chip on his shoulder when he was a rookie, a chip on his shoulder and a selfish streak to get a meaningless stat line. Since his rookie year, he's reverted to a selfish gunner. Cousins might just be the most selfish, self-destructive player to ever set foot on an NBA floor, and that's a pretty high bar. He's the type of self-destructive that drags down everyone around him. And Jimmer, well, Jimmer's a guy who never met a shot he didn't like, and can't spell defense.

The key to beating this team is mostly to let those three guys beat themselves. Cousins could give the Sixers huge problems with his strength on the inside. Of course, he's more likely to turn the ball over a handful of times, foul out in about 25 minutes of action and shoot about 40% from the floor. Evans could go off for a triple double any night, but he's more likely to turn the ball over a bunch, put his head down to drive into traffic and fail to run any offense, at all. Jimmer's just going to take a bunch of wild shots and watch the guy he's defending blow right by him, or post him up.

It's helpful when your game plan for beating a team is the exact same thing as their game plan for winning it. This is that rare situation.

Four keys:

  1. Keep Iguodala or Jrue on Evans. Play off him, make him a jump shooter.
  2. Whenever Cousins touches the ball outside of the paint, dare him to shoot. Whenever he catches the ball in the paint, double him immediately. Whenever he puts the ball on the floor and heads toward the hoop. Plant yourself in front of him and take the charge. It doesn't so much matter who's guarding him, follow these steps and he'll sink Sacto's offense.
  3. Be patient on the offensive end. Sacto's team defense is laughable, just make a couple of passes and you'll find an open shot. The only way they'll stop you is if you stop yourself.
  4. Rebound. Cousins is terrible in just about every aspect of the game except rebounding. He's a great offensive rebounder, don't let him get inside position, make him go over the back to get the o-boards.

That's pretty much it. The Kings have some guys who can get hot and hurt you. Evans, Cousins, Thornton and even Hickson are all capable of having a big game if you get lazy, or they get hot. The good news is the Kings always have at least two offensive dead ends on the floor, so if someone gets hot, just double off one of the scrubs and see if Sacto is willing and/or able to make the extra pass.

The Kings are a middling offensive team and the third-worst defensive team in the league. Nothing fancy, just play solid basketball, concentrate on the areas where they can hurt you and this should be another double-digit win.

One last thing, my favorite DeMarcus Cousins stat (well, one of them). He's a monster on the offensive boards, but he's terrible at turning those boards into points. According to Synergy, he's shooting 34% on put-back attempts after grabbing an o-board (9/26). Including fouls, he only scores 0.82 points-per-play when he grabs an offensive board and goes back up. These are point-blank attempts, for the most part, and the team would be far better off if instead of trying to hit the shot right at the rim, he would simply pass it back out and run another play. As a point of comparison, our very own Spencer Hawes shot 50% on put-backs last season, and he's scoring 1.46 points-per-play in that situation this year.

The tip is at 7pm, tonight. Game thread will be up around five. Two questions to get you through the day: (1) Will Turner play a big role tonight (I don't want to see Lou on Tyreke for even one second in this game). (2) Will the attendance rise or fall from last night's pitiful 8,600?
by Brian on Jan 10 2012
Tags: Basketball | Previews | Sacramento Kings | Sixers |