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Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Sacramento Kings meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
The Sacramento Kings were supposed to be coming off of one day of rest as they take the court tonight. The basketball gods, however, had different plans.
Sacramento’s matchup with Philadelphia was postponed Wednesday night when the two teams and the league determined that the court was not playable due to condensation. The postponement means that the Kings have not played since Nov. 28, giving them three off days leading up to tonight’s contest.
Will three days of rest help Sacramento to play better tonight? No one knows. What we do know, however, is that Sacramento wasn’t supposed to have that much rest leading into this game.
DMC is a Handful
DeMarcus Cousins is a two-time All-Star who has been regarded by many as the most talented big man in the league for some time now. But, much like his former teammate, Isaiah Thomas, he has gotten even better this season.
Cousins is having the best year of his career and enters tonight’s matchup averaging a career-best 28.7 points per game, which ranks fourth in the league. He’s also hauling in 10.4 rebounds and dishing out 3.2 assists per game this season.
Boston has had some issues containing talented big men this season. Andre Drummond just tallied 20 points and 17 rebounds against the C’s Wednesday night for the second time this season, and other bigs like Hassan Whiteside (25 points, 17 rebounds), Karl-Anthony Towns (27 points, 18 rebounds) and Anthony Davis (25 points, 16 rebounds) have tallied monster performances against Boston this season as well. Clearly, the C’s struggle against elite big-man talent, and that could mean Cousins is in line for another big night tonight.
Marcus and DeMarcus
Speaking of Cousins, he has a reputation for quickly losing his cool. He has actually been ejected from a game at TD Garden in the past – a little less than two years ago, on Dec. 31, 2014.
Why was he ejected? Well, he got into it with a player on Boston’s roster who has also had some issues with keeping his cool, Marcus Smart. Smart boxed Cousins out near the right elbow and Cousins took exception to the play (for some unknown reason). It sparked Cousins to grab Smart and body slam him to the court.
It will be interesting not only to see how these two players interact tonight, but also how they maintain their cool in general. Cousins oftentimes becomes frustrated when his team is losing big. Smart, meanwhile, is only a few days removed from picking up a Flagrant 1 foul and a technical foul Monday night in Miami.
Up the Usage
Two of Boston’s top players, Al Horford and Avery Bradley, were minimally used during the team’s loss Wednesday night. Horford took only five total shot attempts, and Bradley took only eight through the first three quarters.
There’s no doubt that the Celtics will look increase both of those numbers tonight. As Brad Stevens said of Horford in particular, “[Five shots is] not enough, I know that.”
Look for both Horford and Bradley to be featured in Boston’s offense early and often tonight against Sacramento. They are two of Boston’s most efficient scorers, and the C’s know that they need to get them the ball in order to succeed.
Will IT Get Some Whistles?
Isaiah Thomas was visibly frustrated Wednesday night while scoring a game-high 27 points. Why, you might ask? Well, first off, his team was losing, but secondly, he wasn’t getting any calls.
There were multiple drives to the basket by Thomas that could have resulted in whistles that instead resulted in misses and Detroit taking the ball the other way. He just didn’t get many 50-50 calls.
This has been a trend of late for Thomas. He averaged 9.9 free throw attempts per game through the team’s first 14 games of the season. However, that number has dropped to just 4.8 over the last four games, including three games of four or fewer free throws.
Thomas will always attack the basket. The question is, will he get some whistles? He hasn’t been getting many lately, and that has hurt the C’s offense.