The Toronto Raptors visit California’s capital for the only time this season to play what may feel like an intrasquad game. Sac-to is now home to Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy, who will all feel extra motivation to beat the team that traded them away. Similarly, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes won’t need any speeches from coach Dwane Casey to be ready to play.
The Kings have been rebuilding since the time of the Pharoahs…maybe not that long, though Kings fans might agree with me. High draft choices like Jimmer Fredette have been disappointments, though the Kings did get lucky with the last pick of three years ago, tiny point guard Isaiah Thomas. For such a lightly regarded player to become an NBA starter averaging 20 points is remarkable, and a tribute to his hustle and excellent outside shot. Centre DeMarcus Cousins is their top scorer and rebounder, has talent to burn, and the emotional maturity of a nine-year-old. Rudy seems to be fitting in well, meaning he’s getting his points, and his team is losing (the Kings have 3 wins in their last 13 tries). Power forward Jason Thompson has never taken the leap forward he was expected to, and would be better suited coming off the bench. Shooting guard Marcus Thornton will likely concentrate on bothering DeMar DeRozan, as his offensive contributions have been modest.
The Kings’ bench features rookie guard Ben McLemore, high draft pick Derrick Williams, who disappointed Minnesota, and journeyman forward Travis Outlaw. Quincy and Aaron have been receiving more minutes as Kings than they did as Raps, and will likely hit the floor.
The Kings are struggling mightily, and the Raps can grab a win if they:
- go right at Cousins. While there will be a price to pay in blocked shots and body checks to the floor, getting this man-child in foul trouble will break down their interior defense.
- keep Rudy outside. I hope Terrence Ross draws the assignment of covering Mr. Ballstopper. Terrence isn’t as tall, but will bother Rudy and force him to take his low-percentage 20 foot jumpers. Rudy is trouble when he gets to the hoop.
- show off our rotation. Here’s another squad whose second unit shouldn’t be able to match ours.
Kyle Lowry is listed as starting, so presumably his knee issue won’t be an inhibitor. If he and Amir can overcome their aches and pains, the Raptors should win this game by a 106-97 count.