Kings Countdown: “Small ball” arrives for the Raptors on Sunday in Sac

by Charlie O. Mallonee

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Kings head coach Dave Joerger has seen enough

“I’ve seen enough.We’re going to play small. DeMarcus is going to play center. I don’t know who else will play with him. It just gives us more zip, more life, more experience. That’s not any detriment to anyone else or what they’ve done.” That quote is from Dave Joerger’s postgame press conference on Friday night after the Kings lost to the Clippers 121-115.

After watching his team being blown off the court in the first half by the Clippers, Joerger shook up his lineup in the second half by going small with Cousins at the five, Gay at forward and three guards – Lawson, Afflalo and Collison. The result was improved shooting percentage, higher point production and better defense.

Kings had lost four in a row the last time they played Toronto

Sacramento faced the Raptors in Toronto at the end of a five-game/seven-day road trip that had seen the Kings lose four consecutive games. Expectations were very low for the Kings chances after they had been dominated by the Bucks in Milwaukee the night before.

To everyone’s surprise – especially the Raptors – the Kings played a strong game led by Rudy Gay’s 23 points and DeMarcus Cousins double-double (22 points, 14 rebounds) to defeat Toronto 96-91.

The Sacramento defense was as intense as it had been all season in that game in Toronto. The Kings held DeMar DeRozan under 30 points for the first time in the season. He had scored 30-plus points in the five consecutive games to start the season.

Kings can sweep the series for the second consecutive year

Sacramento swept the season series in 2015-16. Now, the Kings have the opportunity to do that again after winning the first game in Toronto.

The Raptors are a Tier-1 team which means they are definitely a playoff team that has chance to make it to the NBA Finals. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season where they lost to the eventual NBA Champions – the Cleveland Cavaliers.

FiveThirtyEight.com projects the Raptors as being the number two seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs this season with a 20-percent chance of being the top seed.

The Kings are still a Tier-3 team which means they basically have no chance of making the playoffs and will be a lottery team again. FiveThirtyEight currently projects the Kings have a 12-percent chance of becoming a playoff team.

Toronto beat the Nuggets 113-111 in OT on Friday night on the road in Denver

The Raptors Terrance Ross hit a 3-pointer with 37.6 seconds to go in the game and Emmanuel Mudiay missed from halfcourt as time ran out and Toronto won in overtime 113-111. DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points for the 10th time in 12 games this season for the Raptors. Kyle Lowry posted a double-double by scoring 18 points and dishing out 13 assists for Toronto in the contest.

Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets

The Raptors aren’t afraid of the road

Toronto (8-4) is 4-1 on the this season. The Raptors will not be intimidated just because they are coming into a new arena in Sacramento. Evidently, the Raptors don’t understand that they are supposed to have a 60-percent chance of losing because they are the visitors.

The key to winning is to stop DeRozan

DeRozan is currently the leading scorer in the NBA at 33.0 points per game. He is shooting 50.3-percent from field and leads all players with 145 field goals.

The Kings will also have to neutralize Jonas Valanciunas

Valanciunas did not play in the game in Toronto due to injury. He scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Denver game Friday night. Valanciunas ranks seventh with a field goal percentage of 57.8-percentage.

Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets

For entertainment purposes only

FiveThirtyEight.com predicts the Raptors have a 63-percent of winning the game on the Sunday night in Sacramento. They also say take Toronto minus 3.5 points.

The sports books show the game going to Toronto minus 1 to 3.5 points. The over/under is a consistent 209.5 points.

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