Monday, January 31, 2011

Girls talk sports: looking ahead to Celtics-Kings.

The last time the Celtics and Kings played, the Celtics ran away with the game in a 119-95 win. Tyreke Evans sat out that game, and the Kings looked pretty lowly. I expect much more of a fight tomorrow night, as the Kings are riding high. They are riding a two game winning streak- just the second time all season they've won consecutive games- but what makes this impressive is that the wins came against the Lakers and the Hornets. What's been working for the Kings as of late?

  • Rookie Demarcus Cousins has come up huge for Sacramento, putting up a combined line of 52 points, 22 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks against LA and New Orleans. Cousins was thought by many to be a head case, which is why he was still available at #5 for the Kings to pick him. He seems to have reigned himself in, because as his line shows, he has helped the Kings win games from all over the floor, not just scoring. 
  • After being plagued by various injuries for much of the beginning of the season, Tyreke Evans appears to be on the road back to health. Evans had 18 points and 6 assists in the victory against LA. In comparison to the numbers Cousins put up, this line is not staggering, but Evans is the floor general for the Kings, so his presence is needed to set the pace and bring consistency and rhythm. 
  • Improved team defense: The Kings held LA to 41 percent shooting, and held the Hornets to 43 percent. In their last nine games, they have held their opponents to 96.9 points per game, as opposed to their previous season average of close to 102 points a game. Part of their recent defensive success comes from tough interior play. Cousins is a key component to this, but so is bench player Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert is an effective rebounder and shot blocker, and he will be starting against the Celtics, due to an ankle injury to Jason Thompson sustained during the Laker game.  

The Celtics cannot come in to Sacramento thinking that it will be an easy win. Much of what propelled them to victory in LA will be crucial tomorrow:

  • Win the battle of the boards: Dalembert and Cousins are both strong rebounders. Evans, Carl Landry and Omar Casspi are all other guys that the Celtics need to keep a body on, to keep the Kings from getting easy second chance points.  
  • Strong performances from Celtics big men: As was aforementioned, Cousins and Dalembert have come up huge for the Kings as of late. Perk, Shaq and Glen Davis will need to match their effort and win the toughness battle. With Thompson sidelined, the Kings lack depth in their front court, and this is something that the Celtics need to capitalize on by attacking the rim. 
  • Patience on offense: The Celtics need to test the Kings newfound dedication to defense. Attacking the basket will apply pressure to the Kings defense, and create space for the Celtics to get easy, open jump shots. 

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