Let me start this up by saying that for a couple of reasons, we will not be on these pre-thoughts for too long. Seeing as how the Blazers and Kings just squared off a few days ago, there are not a ton of new thoughts creeping in my head. The other reason, is I do not want to bump down Coup’s excellent thoughts from last night’s game against Golden State. You should read it or I will curse you. Tonight will mark Portland’s 15th back-to-back of the season. On the season they boast an impressive 12-3 record in the second game of a back to back, and are actually undefeated (4-0) in the latter half of a back-to-back when they win the first game. Tell that to your friends.
Back to the Blazers and Kings. We all know that on Tuesday, Portland nearly blew a 10 point fourth quarter lead in about 4 minutes yet held on to win. Both teams have played since then. Obviously, last night the Blazers were victorious over Golden State. Sacramento defeated the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday by a score of 113-90. The stats tell me the Kings wanted that game much more: they had a 43 point third quarter and out-rebounded Toronto 52-33. I expect a stronger effort from the Kings tonight. For one they actually are not half bad at home: 16-15 for the year with two victories over Denver and one over Utah to brag about. Young teams tend to play much better at home, especially role players. So guys like Beno Udrih, Donte Greene, Francisco Garcia become a little more dangerous. If the Kings can get efforts from those guys to compliment Carl Landry and Tyreke Evans, things could get sticky.
This game comes down to energy and effort. From a distance this smells like one of those games where the Blazers may play flat or have no legs. That cannot happen because the Kings thrive on dribble penetration and easy buckets. If Portland has trouble keeping guys in front, fouling or rotating people may be a bit disappointed in the outcome. After playing 42 minutes and dropping 41 points, I imagine Brandon Roy is going to need some help. This is where other guys need to step up…namely you LaMarcus Aldridge. I know, I know, undersized big men cause you problems but you are going to have to find a way to regain your efficiency. These are the games where ideally having guys like Batum, Rudy and Bayless pays off. We’ll see if they can step up to the plate and handle it.