Pregame Post-Ups: Cousins Riding Hottest Stretch of Career

Friday, December 2 - Kings at Celtics

Pregame – Cousins Rides Hottest Stretch of Career into Boston

BOSTON – DeMarcus Cousins has consistently torn opposing teams apart over the last seven seasons, but the Sacramento big man has never experienced a stretch quite like the one he’s currently riding.

Cousins, whose Kings will face off against the Boston Celtics Friday night, has averaged an astounding 35.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game during his last four contests. He’s tallied at least 32 points and nine boards during each game – a feat that he had never before accomplished over a four-game stretch.

“He’s playing in space and attacking the basket and I think his 3-point percentage is pretty high (52.0 percent) in the last four games also,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger ahead of tip-off at TD Garden. “So it becomes a pick-your-poison kind of deal when he’s out on the perimeter.”

Cousins has made 13 of his 25 attempts from beyond the arc during the last four games, which is remarkable for a 6-foot-11, 270-pound center. His perimeter shooting is just one of many concerns for Celtics coach Brad Stevens heading into Friday’s matchup.

“He’s a tough guy to guard,” said Stevens. “I think a great example is just in a simple pick-and-roll, what do you do? I mean, usually with guys who shoot 40 percent you’re likely to switch or mix in switches, but obviously with his size, that becomes a lot more difficult because he can bury you in the post, he’s a good post scorer, and then a good offensive rebounder, especially against guys who are smaller. So he’s a handful.”

Boston’s defense has been torched by top centers during the last couple of weeks, including remarkable performances by Anthony Davis (25 points, 16 rebounds), Karl-Anthony Towns (27 points, 18 rebounds) and Hassan Whiteside (25 points, 17 rebounds).

With that being noted, Stevens is satisfied with the way his defense has performed lately as an entire unit.

“As far as how we’ve played (defensively), I think in the last three weeks we’ve actually been a little bit better,” said Stevens. “We’re focused on the things we can control. We’ve just got to shore up the rebounding and there’s little individual correctable things.”

Another positive note is that Cousins has struggled more against Boston than most other foes. The Celtics are actually the only Eastern Conference team that he has not averaged a double-double against – he’s posted career numbers of 18.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG against Boston.

The Celtics may have a difficult time holding him to those averages Friday night, however, considering their recent fate against top centers and the fact that Cousins is in the midst of the hottest stretch of his career.

- Taylor C. Snow