MEXICO CITY – Rajon Rondo, the current Sacramento King and former Boston Celtic, is certainly the headliner when these two teams meet tomorrow night.
But the matchup to watch in this game will be between Boston’s Jared Sullinger and Sacramento all-star DeMarcus Cousins.
The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins earned his first all-star appearance last year and now … he looks to be even more dominant.
Although injuries have limited him to 11 games played this season, that doesn’t take away from how he has dominated any and all foes.
He has had six games of 30 or more points scored, and for the season is averaging a double-double of 28.5 points and 11 rebounds to go with 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
All of those numbers are better than Sullinger’s statistics this season.
But here’s the thing.
Sullinger’s season and career statistics are useless when it comes to gauging how he plays against Cousins.
I asked him on Wednesday if Cousins brought out the best in him as a player.
“You don’t want to be another victim,” Sullinger said. “He destroys people in the NBA because of his physical toughness. Not only that but because of his skill. You have to be prepared.”
And Sullinger has been just that in the last two meetings. In those games, Sullinger has averaged 25.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and an assist.
Sullinger has played against Cousins and the Kings four times. He has only failed to reach double figures scoring once, and that came during his rookie season on Jan. 30, 2013 when he grabbed just one rebound in four minutes before suffering what turned into a season-ending back injury that required surgery.
Meanwhile, Cousins is a career 19.2 points per game scorer. But in the four games against Boston with Sullinger in the lineup, he has only reached or exceeded that point total just once which was during the 2013-2014 season when he and Sullinger each had 31 points and 16 rebounds.
And in those four games against each other, Sullinger’s Celtics are 3-1.
When asked about his approach to dealing with Cousins, Sullinger grinned, “I’m prepared to wrestle; have my knee braces, my elbow braces, all that good stuff. I’m ready to tango.”