Fourth and final matchup
The Portland Trail Blazers have played the Sacramento Kings three times this season, and they’ll play host to their familiar foe one last time Wednesday night.
Matchup: Portland (13-13) vs Sacramento (9-18)
Venue: Rose Garden
Time: 7:00 PM PT
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012
The Blazers are coming off a disappointing loss to the Kings this past weekend, and they’ll look to even the series by getting the last laugh.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
The Sacramento Kings have not been a good basketball team throughout the 2012-13 season, yet they’ve taken down the Trail Blazers by double-digits the last two times they faced off. In both of these games, ball movement and ball control were a common theme.
In the previous matchup, the Kings moved the ball well. Portland has shown throughout the season that they can create a flow on offense, but they were unable to do so against this team.
The other big difference is field-goal percentage. It’s been a common theme throughout the year, but Portland’s defense just simply isn’t good enough to make up for poor shooting performances. When the Blazers shoot well against this team, they win. When they don’t, they lose.
It’s that simple.
What to Watch: Portland
When you’re playing a team with a subpar record, you have to keep the ball in your possession. Any giveaways are gifts to a team like the Kings, and every time you don’t take a shot, you’re allowing an inferior opponent to establish momentum.
The Blazers have played sloppy basketball as of late, and it’s going to be crucial that they control the ball better than they have been.
The other thing to look for is how they react to DeMarcus Cousins being back on the floor. The big man was absent in the team’s previous matchup, and he’ll easily be the most physically dominant player on the court Wednesday night.
What to Watch: Sacramento
The Sacramento Kings have been one of the worst teams in the NBA at sharing the basketball, and a big reason for that is because Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins command the ball so much of the time. Well, the Kings’ two leading scorers were out for last weekend’s game against Portland, and we saw a whole new look to the Sacramento offense.
Without their stars on the floor, Sacramento did a fantastic job of moving the ball. Isolation plays were kept to a minimum, they drove and kicked creating open shots and they ended up with six players in double-digits.
Come Wednesday night, Evans will still be out with a sore left knee, but Cousins will be back in the lineup following his brief suspension from the team.
With the big man back in the middle, it will be interesting to see how the teamwork of last week carries into a new game plan. Cousins is going to want the ball, and needless to say, he’s going to get it. If he can mold himself into Sacramento’s offense, and not the other way around, they’re going to be a tough team to beat.
With DeMarcus Cousins back in the lineup, the matchup of the game shifts to the center position.
The Kings’ big man missed the previous matchup due to a team suspension, and while the Kings looked good on the offensive end of the floor, he provides a presence in the paint that they don’t have anywhere else.
J.J. Hickson will be challenged by the center, but he’s in the middle of a seven-game streak in which he’s recorded a double-double in each outing. J.J. Hickson has been the man in the middle for Portland all year, and while he doesn’t possess the physical presence that Cousins does, he has energy and a will to win that gives him the advantage.
Cousins may finish with a better stat line when it’s all said and done, but it’s possible that Hickson has the bigger impact on his team.
Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—Wesley Matthews
Sacramento: OUT—Tyreke Evans, DAY-TO-DAY—Fransisco Garcia
The Blazers have lost two games in a row to the Sacramento Kings, but with Cousins back in the middle and the plan of attack more clear, the results should be much more in their favor this time around.