Game Preview: Raptors vs. Kings
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
The Raptors will finish up a two-game homestand with a Sunday evening contest against the Sacramento Kings before heading out on a two-game road trip. Although Sacramento comes to Toronto with a losing record in the early days of the season, attempting to contain DeMarcus Cousins has never been a welcomed task. For Toronto, DeMar DeRozan is looking for his sixth straight 30-point performance.
Tip-off: 6:00 P.M. ET
Broadcast Info: SNET1 / SNET 590 THE FAN
Rough schedule to start
When asked about the NBA schedule, most coaches and players try not to complain. Every team in the league plays the same 82 games, 41 at home, and 41 on the road. Still, the Sacramento Kings did not win out in the easy start to the season lottery when it came to this year’s schedule.
After opening the season on the road in Phoenix, the Kings returned home for two games and then immediately embarked on a five-game east coast road trip. Despite big games from DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, the trip has not been an easy one for the Kings, with the team dropping its first four games of the trip. Sunday’s game against the Raptors will be Sacramento’s final game of the trip and they’ll certainly be looking to right the ship before returning home.
Former Raptor Rudy Gay sat during Sacramento’s Saturday loss to the Milwaukee Bucks because of a rib cartilage strain, while Anthony Tolliver was out with a knee issue. Omri Casspi started in Gay’s place against the Bucks.
DeRozan shrugging off praise, ready to keep working
It’s becoming more and more difficult to dismiss the way DeMar DeRozan has started this season. Usually when a team or player gets off to a hot start, we caution to be patient because, “it’s early.” Yes, it is indeed still early with only five games played by the Raptors, but when a player accomplishes things that were last done before he was born, the early disclaimer can be dismissed.
With DeRozan’s fifth straight 30-point performance on Friday, he became the first player to start a season with five consecutive games of 30+ points since Michael Jordan in 1986. The 27-year-old Raptors guard was born in 1989. When told about the latest accomplishment, DeRozan refused to acknowledge it, shrugging off the stat, saying he didn't believe it.
Through seven years in Toronto, DeRozan has almost always allowed his game to do the talking for him. Although he doesn’t talk a lot about outside perception and criticism of his game, he certainly hears about and remembers them.
“Me personally, I always find motivation in every single thing,” DeRozan said. “I thrive off challenges, that's just how I was raised. That's the environment I grew up in. You show me something, I'm going to be rebellious and go against your opinion.”
Casey happy with Patterson’s contributions off bench
Through the first five games of the season, Patrick Patterson’s numbers haven’t been particularly flashy. If one were to just scan the boxscores, there hasn’t been a lot to jump out. This is why there’s more to the game than just what is captured on a boxscore. With Jared Sullinger out and rookie Pascal Siakam starting in his place, Dwane Casey has needed to rely on Patterson’s veteran experience and savvy off the bench.
Although his shot hasn’t shown up like usual yet, Patterson is averaging a block per contest, up from the 0.4 blocks per game he averaged last season. He’s also pulling down 5.4 rebounds per game, and dishing two assists each night. His efforts on defence have been huge for Toronto, and the job he did against the Miami Heat on Friday had Casey raving.
“Huge [impact],’ Casey said. “Patrick is really doing a great job. I know offensively, his numbers don’t show up, but he’s doing so many things for us as far as defending multiple positions, rebounding, making sure he load up in transition situations. He’s doing a heck of a job. His three-ball is gonna start falling here pretty soon. He’s doing a heck of a job in big minutes.”
Patterson is averaging 30.6 minutes per game to start the season, up from 25.6 minutes per game a season ago.