Kings Face Huge Challenge vs. Thunder: Game Preview


Thomas Robinson

The Sacramento Kings prepare to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at Sleep Train Arena. The Thunder come into tonight’s game with a league leading 33-10 record. They are easily the best team in the West, and potentially the best team in the NBA.

OKC is coming off a loss against the Warriors, and is very dangerous in games following losses. The Thunder are 8-1 in games following a loss this season, and have only lost consecutive games once this season. The Kings will have their hands full as they try to hand Oklahoma it second consecutive loss for only the second time this season.

The Kings committed 25 turnovers for 27 points against the Suns. Sacramento will need to take much better care of the ball against an aggressive Thunder team, who loves getting into the open court in fast break opportunities.

The Kings will need Jason Thompson to find a way out of his recent slump against a very physical Thunder front-court of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. While Cousins is more than capable of having a big night against Perkins, the Kings big men will all need to be aware of the shot blocking prowess of Ibaka. This means the Kings will also need to space the floor and not crowd the rim. Ibaka’s job as a shot blocker and defender are made easier when opposing teams crowd the paint only for their guards to drive to the basket and find Ibaka waiting for them at the rim.

Defense will be a major key in tonight’s game, as the Kings have shown that they are capable of slowing down good teams, and getting into the open court. The Kings will be unable to outrun the Thunder tonight, but must take advantage of any and all the opportunities they get to score easy baskets.

Thomas Robinson has finally started to play the way most around the league had hoped. Robinson’s double double is merely the tip of the iceberg. As he continues to grow as a player, Robinson needs to pay attention to players like Serge Ibaka and Joakim Noah who play a very similar style of basketball. Both Ibaka and Noah play around the rim, getting rebounds and offensive put-backs. Robinson is potentially more explosive around the rim than either player, and has a very good outside shot. Robinson has the ability to be a shot blocker like Ibaka, and a tough nosed defender like Noah. Tonight will be a big test for the rookie forward as he must be ready for the chance to play against a very talented Thunder Team.

Probable Starters:

Sacramento Kings

5  John Salmons                  Forward

34 Jason Thompson           Forward

15 DeMarcus Cousins         Center

13  Tyreke Evans                  Guard

22  Isaiah Thomas              Guard

Oklahoma City Thunder

35  Kevin Durant                Forward

9   Serge Ibaka                     Forward

5   Kendrick Perkins           Center

0   Russell Westbrook        Guard

9   Serge Ibaka                      Guard