The Raptors try to keep things rolling tonight with a Kings team in town that sports an identical record and usually gives Toronto trouble.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Ed Davis, Aaron Gray
Sacramento: Isaiah Thomas, John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
Toronto: Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas remain out
Sacramento: Tyreke Evans is out, while Marcus Thornton is questionable
- The Kings have beaten the Raptors three out of the last four matchups, including earlier this season in Sacramento and last season in Toronto (both Raptors losses were by seven points). I know the Raptors are playing some good, exciting basketball right now, but under-estimating the unpredictable Kings could spell a disappointing result. Sacramento is 2-13 on the road, though, so if the Raptors can jump on them early the way they did to Portland on Wednesday, they should be able to suck the life out of the Kings. In addition, if Thornton can’t go tonight, the Kings will be in tough without two of their top three scorers.
- The Raptors are looking for a ninth win in 10 games tonight and a sixth straight win at home, where they’ve suddenly jumped out to an 8-5 record.
- If you think the Andrea Bargnani situation is an intriguing NBA soap opera right now, I assure you, the DeMarcus Cousins Saga is even more gripping. In Cousins, the Kings have a 22-year-old man-child who doesn’t seem to respond well to any kind of basketball authority and a physically dominant specimen that lets his talent and dominance go to waste. Nowhere is that lack of focus and willingness to take advantage of his talents more evident than his field goal percentage, where the 6-11, 270-pounder is shooting an atrocious 41.3 per cent from the floor this season and 43.5 per cent for his career. Having said that, we’re still talking about a 22-year-old big man who’s averaged nearly 20 points and 12 rebounds per 36 minutes through two-and-a-third professional seasons thus far. Cousins isn’t just a good talent worth trying to save, he’s a legitimate potential superstar if someone out there can get into his head.
- Raptors fans certainly know all about DMC’s tantalizing potential, as Cousins has averaged 20 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.25 blocks in four career games against Toronto.
- An interesting question to ask right now might be which of these two teams has a brighter future as currently constructed? On the one hand, the Kings have the more promising natural talents in Cousins and Evans, but on the other hand, I don’t think Cousins will ever reach anything close to his potential in Sacramento and Evans is a seriously regressing young player. If I was guaranteed to get the absolute best out of every talent, then I take the Kings’ young core, but since there are no guarantees, I’ll gladly take a core of Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and maybe even Ed Davis right now. Being in the weaker conference also plays to the Raptors’ advantage. Having said all of that though, I’d be willing to trade almost anybody (definitely not Valanciunas) to try landing Cousins.