Death spiral or a blip on the radar? No one said it would be easy when the Sacramento Kings entered the season with 10 new faces and five rookies on the roster. But after dropping their third straight in blowout fashion and their sixth in a row overall, the Kings are searching for answers.
Coach Dave Joerger mixed up his starting lineup Wednesday against the Celtics and found success early. But when the wheels came off the bus in the second and third quarters, the veteran coach had no answer. Sacramento has scored 83, 83 and 86 points in the last three games. The offense has been out of sync and the defense is scrambling to make stops.
Detroit is fresh off a 105-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday evening. They’ll face a Struggling Kings team, but on the second night of a back-to-back. Did the scheduling gods throw Sacramento a bone?
Pistons by 9
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Andre Drummond -- Can you find two players at the same position in the NBA that any more different. Drummond is coming off a 24-point, 15-rebound performance in Milwaukee and he currently ranks third in the league in rebounding at over 14 rebounds per game. Cauley-Stein just posted a three rebound night against the Celtics and his season average is down to 6.8 rebounds per game. If Cauley-Stein can’t keep a body on Drummond, the Kings are in for a long night in Motown.
WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 1-7, fifth place in Pacific
Pistons: 6-3, first place in Central
Kings: PG George Hill (personal) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.
Pistons: PF Jon Leuer (ankle) doubtful.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
IS IT TIME TO TIGHTEN THE ROTATION? -- Dave Joerger has turned to 10 and sometimes 11 players in his rotation with varying degrees of success. With the team in a slide, is it time to get back to the basics with a core eight or nine players and trying build some momentum? Who plays in this scenario is anyone’s guess. Veterans and a couple of young players might do the trick and then expand from there.
DID BUDDY HIELD FIND HIS GAME? -- Hield finally started hitting shots in the fourth quarter in the Kings’ blowout loss to the Celtics. Those points came against third string players, but the second-year guard finally found some success from the field. He’s shooting 38.7 percent from the field and an abysmal 25.7 percent from behind the arc. Those numbers need to improve if the Sacramento are going to continue to feature the former Oklahoma product.
WILLIE REBOUND OR WON’T HE? -- Cauley-Stein burst onto the scene with back-to-back double-doubles to start the season. It’s gone dramatically downhill from there. The Kings drafted WCS as a defender and rebounder. They need him to reconnect with his identity or look for veteran Kosta Koufos to start eating his minutes.
The Kings swept the season series 2-0 last year, including a 109-104 win at the Palace at Auburn Hills in late January. Detroit holds a 133-119 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 36-26 edge during the Sacramento-era.