The disappointingly 2-4 Brooklyn Nets begin a three-game West Coast swing tonight against the 1-5 Sacramento Kings, kicking off a game well past their East Coast bedtimes at 10:00 P.M. EST/7:00 Pacific. The Kings, as their record suggests, haven’t been very good this season — or in any season in the past decade — but they’ve got a few young weapons that could surprise Brooklyn’s big, tall, and aging roster.
Where & When: 10:00 P.M. EST, Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento
Watch: YES Network
Listen: CBS WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
Three things to watch tonight after the jump:
1) DeMarcus Cousins vs. Brook Lopez/his own demons. The 23-year-old behemoth Cousins is either four years away from becoming the best center in the NBA or four years away from the only coach that seemed to have any idea how to control him, Kentucky’s John Calipari. Cousins is putting up monster numbers in his fourth season, averaging 23.5 points and 9.7 rebounds in about 32 minutes per game, but hurts the team with lackadaisical defense, ball dominance (he uses 36% of Sacramento’s possessions when he’s on the floor, which leads the league) and a poor understanding of court spacing.
Cousins is a good test of Lopez’s league-dominating post defense thus far this season, as no player he’s faced yet has anywhere near Cousins’s footwork and touch in the post. But defensively, Cuzzo is also so bad that Lopez should feast.
2) Kevin Maurice Garnett. Garnett has, ahem, struggled to begin the year, with a bottom-feeding true shooting percentage and defensive numbers that look more like they belong to Amar’e Stoudemire. The Kings start Patrick Patterson at power forward, who’s big and decent but not known for being a defensive stalwart or offensive force. After three days of rest, maybe this is Garnett’s time to shoot 4-5 and not 2-5, while running the finely tuned defense we all expected to see.
But hey, at least no one was dumb enough to put him #1 in any New York Basketball Power Rankings, right? RIGHT!? (Kill me now.)
3) Offensive explosion? The Kings have the league’s worst defense by far, allowing 107.6 points per 100 possessions in their first six games. The Nets have an offense that, when firing on all cylinders, is close to unstoppable. This is the type of opponent Lopez could score more than a point a minute against. If they don’t run plays, but make them, the Nets could set Sacramento on fire tonight.