Sixers-Kings: 5 things you need to know

Sixers-Kings: 5 things you need to know

January 2, 2014, 1:00 pm
Share This Post

The Sixers (10-21) will go for a third straight win away from home when they continue their six-game road trip against the Sacramento Kings (10-20) on Thursday night.

Tipoff is set for 10 p.m. (TCN) at Sleep Train Arena.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Spread the wealth
The Sixers are starting to see a little payoff from their hard work.

They racked up their second straight road win by taking down the Denver Nuggets on New Year’s Day. The Sixers scored a season-high 68 points in the first half and had seven players finish the game with double-figure points.

“Everybody is coming together and I think we are moving the ball well,” Evan Turner said (see story). “And we are running. That’s the biggest thing. We are doing a lot of great things.”

A win over the Kings, who are just 6-11 at home this season, would guarantee the Sixers at least a .500 finish on their road trip. That’s no small feat after the Sixers opened the road swing with a pair of double-digit defeats in Milwaukee and Phoenix.

2. Three-headed monster
It’s not exactly the same as Miami or San Antonio’s Big 3, but the Kings have a formidable trio of their own.

Sacramento has been playing much better since head coach Mike Malone called out his team, and it has all started with the play of center DeMarcus Cousins, point guard Isaiah Thomas and newly-acquired swingman Rudy Gay.

Cousins is dominating in the paint, averaging 22.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He’s also been more active on the defensive end of late.

Gay has done his share of damage to the Sixers in recent history during his time with the Raptors. He’s averaging 19.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, but he’s been far more efficient since being dealt to the Kings on Dec. 9. Gay is shooting 48.1 percent from the field in 10 games with the Kings after shooting 38.8 in 18 games for the Raptors.

Thomas is the wild card. After being moved back and forth from reserve to starter, the 5-foot-9 guard has found a permanent home in the starting lineup and it’s paying off. He’s averaging 19.2 points and 6.1 assists per game. He’s also scored at least 20 points in 11 of his last 15 games.

The Sixers must contain these three if they hope to extend their road winning streak to a third straight game.

3. Late fireworks
Thursday’s tilt could turn into a shootout. While both teams have capable offenses to provide plenty of sparks, the scoreboard could be working on overdrive mainly because these are two of the NBA’s worst defenses.

The Sixers allow a league-worst 111.2 points per game and the Kings are just ahead of them at 104.0. The Kings also rank 29th in opponents’ field goal percentage (47.3) and are tied for last in the NBA in opponents’ three-point percentage (39.1). Meanwhile, the Sixers are 26th and 24th in those categories, respectively.

With two teams that can get up and down the floor in a hurry and a ton of baskets going through the net, the game may just come down to which team has the ball last.

4. Injuries
Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson (knee) are all out.

Carl Landry (hip) is out for the Kings.

5. This and that
• The Sixers are going for three straight wins for the first time since they started the season 3-0.

• Turner has averaged just 8.8 points in five games against the Kings.

• The Sixers have won four straight over the Kings and nine of the last 11.

• Cousins has averaged 13.6 points and shot 40.3 percent in five games against the Sixers.

• Thomas has averaged 24.5 points in his last two games against the Sixers.