The Sacramento Kings are going up against the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat Frdiay night.
The Kings have not been playing well since taking the road, as they have now dropped two games in a row to the Hawks and the Bobcats. The Kings will have to show up for a full 48 minutes if they want any chance of defending the Heat on their home floor.
If you remember last year’s faceoff in Miami, the Kings and Heat went down to the wire and wasn’t settled without double overtime. The game looking like it is almost out of reach the Kings down in the fourth quarter, 112-104 but Marcus Thornton found the touch from distance and brought the team back 112-110. After a couple of missed free throws by Dwyane Wade, DeMarcus Cousins on the other end ties it up on a putback of an Isaiah Thomas miss.
The Kings showed fire in the first overtime, battling back and forth with the Heat but could not find a way to put it in the bag. LeBron James would get blocked on a driving layup to finish the first OT, which led to the second overtime.
During that second overtime, it was a complete takeover by LeBron James as the Heat won it 141-129.
The Kings have a whole new look going into their first matchup with the defending champs. A lot of changes have happened since the beginning of the season with the acquisitions of players like Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray. There has also been a big bump in production from big man DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins has been playing at an All-Star level and has even been in the conversation as being the best big man in the NBA.
With the Heat not known for having a true big man center, Cousins is going to be looked to carry this Kings team tonight, but he is going to need help from everyone and the team is going to have to show up for the entire 48 minutes.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
- The Matchup- A good matchup to look for tonight is the matchup between Rudy Gay and LeBron James. Gay has the size and quickness to keep up with James on the floor, but Rudy cannot be expected to do it all on his own. The team is going to have to crash down and play team defense to really slow down LeBron.
- Dwyane Wade- You can’t forget about the one nicknamed “wow,” Wade is still an elite player in this league and he proved so against the Pacers, racking up 32 points. Ben McLemore is going to have his hands full tonight guarding the crafty veteran in Wade and it is going to be an interesting matchup all night long and seeing who coach Michael Malone decides to stick him.
- Three-Point Shooting- The Heat have a ton of offensive weapons–especially in their big three–but you do not want to forget about the supporting cast surrounding that big three. With players like Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis and Norris Cole, the Heat have plenty of players to look for on the wing. The Kings have one of the worst 3-point defenses in the league, so they are going to have to limit their looks and try and force more mid-range jumpers.
The 3 Keys:
1. No Second Chances- The Kings will have the size down low to grab a ton of rebounds and they will need to try and grab everyone when a shot is put up. The team needs to not give this loaded Heat team a second chance of putting the ball in the basket, they have too many weapons, and if you give them more than one opportunity they will find a way to capitalize on it.
2. Feed Cousins- DeMarcus will be the Kings biggest factor for a victory tonight. The Heat really don’t have the size down low to bang with DeMarcus in the low post. A great asset that Cousins has brought to his game this year is the willingness to pass. Cousins has always been a good passer and now he has been putting it to good use. With the Heat more than likely having to double Cousins, his vision will help the team find more opportunities to score.
3. Take Care Of The Leather- This key really reiterates the first key, limit the possessions the Kings give to the Heat. The Heat are terrific on the break and they so many weapons to break you down from every inch of the court. The Heat also have a great defense when they want to ramp it up, so the Kings are going to have to find a way to stay level headed and run their offense and take care of the basketball.
The Kings have proven they can rise to the level of talent they play against this season, and they are going to have to rise to a really high level tonight. This game has the makings to either be really great or a complete blowout, it will really depend on how the players approach the game when the lights come on. The game begins at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Comcast Sportsnet.