The Sacramento Kings are this year's Suns. At 9-5, the Kings would be the 7-seed in the West if the playoffs ended today and would face the Golden State Warriors in the first round. That would be a really fun matchup.
The Kings are one of the teams (the Suns and Pelicans are the others) that is trying to go for wins now and create separation from the Thunder. As it stands, the other 7 teams from last year's Western Conference playoffs look to be locks to make the postseason (knocks as hard as possible on every piece of wood available). Maybe the Kings have grand ideas about the playoffs, and that's great. But first they have to make it and that requires finishing ahead of the Thunder.
Last season, the Kings won the first two matchups with the Rockets before Houston won the second two. Those games were frustrating to watch and this one could be the same way.
Tip off is at 7pm CST.
Point Guard: Isaiah Canaan vs. Ramon Sessions
Darren Collison missed the Kings' game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a strained right quad. Sessions filled in with 15/6. I don't know Collison's status as of this writing, so I'll leave Sessions here.
Sessions killed the Rockets the last couple of years with the Bobcats. He gets to the rim pretty easily and will shoot his fair share of free throws tonight.
Also, I know that Isaiah Canaan's nickname is Sip, but it was interesting when the mic picked up McHale yelling "Sip! Sip!" in the game against the Knicks.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Ben McLemore
This shouldn't be close. Harden has to attack, attack, and attack some more if the Rockets are going to steal this game.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Omri Casspi
THE PLAYA FROM JUDEA RETURNS TO HIS STOMPING GROUNDS!
Rudy Gay missed the Kings game last night to rest his Achilles. I don't know if he'll play tonight. Selfish AK hopes he doesn't, but Big Picture AK sees the Rudy Gay Redemption Story as one of the best stories that no one is covering.
Gay has been demolished by every analytical model in existence. He didn't get to the free throw line, he took long jumpers, and he wasn't a great 3-point shooter. As soon as John Hollinger got to Memphis, Gay was traded to Toronto and just a short time later the Raptors shipped him to the Kings, where most expected him to keep chucking away on a team with other young players who would also keep chucking. Basically, he could fade into irrelevance and that would be that.
As Lee Corso would say, not so fast. The revival is on.
Advantage: Rockets if Casspi pays; Kings if Gay plays
Power Forward: Donatas Motiejunas vs. Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson will grab at least one or two offensive rebounds and slam it back home. He's almost like a more athletic version of Terrence Jones. This won't be good.
D-Mo has been better in the last two games, but I've become too accustomed to inconsistent D-Mo so I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Center: Tarik Black vs. DeMarcus Cousins
Please be healthy, Dwight.
Rockets: Propeller Plane, Kostas Papanikolaou, Joey Dorsey, Francisco Garcia
Kings: Derrick Williams, Carl Landry, Ray McCallum, Nik Stauskas
Prediction: DMC +/- Rudy Gay proves to be too much, Kings win 102-88.
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