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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings

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The Spurs will be without Coach Popovich once again, as they take on a Kings team that has taken the league (and the Spurs) by surprise to start the year. Can San Antonio improve upon its five-game winning streak?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
November 28, 2014, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger. Academy Award winner Matthew Maconnaughey. MVP candidate Demarcus Cousins. In the state of California anything is possible, and early opinions can be turned on their heads faster than you can say Boogie.

The upstart Sacramento Kings are the most recent example of this, taking the league by surprise after a seemingly-ho-hum offseason that had many pundits counting them out this year. 15 games into the season, they're the closest thing to last year's Phoenix Suns, and perhaps even more puzzling.

Because, to be fair, why would anyone have expected this team to be at 9-6 and challenging for a postseason spot in this Western Conference? They let former-60th-pick-turned-borderline-star Isaiah Thomas go in free agency and signed NBA drifter Darren Collison to take his place, while deciding to go all-in on a Rudy Gay-Demarcus Cousins combination that would have most league execs running for the ESPN Trade Machine. They had a logjam at the power forward position, questions at the two-guard position, and a franchise player that most people considered a certified headcase.

The result thus far, however, has been remarkable. Cousins, for one, is putting up averages of 23.5 and 12.6, to go with solid percentages and over a block and steal per game. People are for good reason making a big fuss about the performances of Anthony Davis, but Cousins has been no slouch to start the year. Complementing him has been Rudy Gay, who'd been second only perhaps to Josh Smith in resisting any metrics-based critique of his game. While his game still isn't among the most efficient in the league, Gay provides the Kings with a true second option on offense, and the impact of his presence has opened things up for both players. Meanwhile Darren Collison, an acquisition much derided by NBA writers, is putting up career highs across the board after barely denting the rotations in LA and Dallas.

The Kings beat the Spurs in their matchup earlier this year 94-91, marring an otherwise-perfect tour of the West Coast for San Antonio. Gay and Cousins combined for 43 of those points, with Collison chipping in 19.

The Spurs will turn to first-year assistant coach Ettore Messina again, who will step in once more for Gregg Popovich, recovering after a medical procedure that kept him out of Wednesday's game against Indiana. In that game, it was Manu Ginobili, who actually played for Messina ages ago in Europe, that led the way for San Antonio with a season-high 28 points.

On the Kings side, starters Rudy Gay and Darren Collison could possibly be out. Collison has a solid backup in Ramon Sessions, who's been a serviceable replacement at nearly every stop he's made on his NBA career. Gay's absence has a bigger impact on coach Mike Malone's gameplan, leaving a bigger hole to fill on the offensive end. Sacramento played without him against Houston on Wednesday, losing what would have been an otherwise-close game thanks to sloppy execution and a 21-4 turnover disparity.

A loss to the Kings tonight would mean a series edge for Sacramento for the season. I'm not sure when the last time that happened was, but I'm guessing Chris Webber was not wearing a headset and suit at the time.

Cousins is one of the toughest matchups in the league down low. He's an overwhelming combination of strength and skill, with the ability to back down an opponent and either impose his will or pull off a circus shot incongruous with a man of his build. No one player on the Spurs can be expected to contain him but, with the absence of Gay, the San Antonio defense should be able to concentrate on him enough to stifle the Kings attack. They don't have enough outside shooting around Boogie to question this strategy and, even if he goes off, I think the Spurs do enough on their own end to get the win.

Matchup to watch: The Timmy Boogie. It's not something I want to watch, really. Tim absorbing any bit of Cousins down low is not ideal at his age, but it will happen. Part of the genius of Old Man Riverwalk is his mutability in taking on different kinds of opponents, however, and the early assignment will reveal a bit more of Duncan's genius in not only preserving his body, but accepting the Rocky III situation he's in and bracing himself against the league's very own Clubber Lang.

vs.

Sacramento Kings (9-6)

San Antonio Spurs (10-4)

November 28, 2014

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

7:30 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Ramon Sessions

PG

Tony Parker

Ben McLemore

SG

Danny Green

Omri Casspi

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Jason Thompson

PF

Boris Diaw

Demarcus Cousins

C

Tim Duncan


Game prediction: Spurs by 6

For the Kings' perspective, visit Sac Town Royalty.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com