Scouting the Kings: Evans is x-factor for Kings vs. Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs (34-14) finish up one of the most enduring stretches of the season as they complete their fifth game in six nights tonight TEagainst the Sacramento Kings, in Sacramento. Keep in mind, the Spurs are on a five game winning streak and are 4-0 during that 5-in-6-nights stretch.

The Spurs were without Stephen Jackson and Tiago Splitter on Tuesday as the Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns 107-100 in Phoenix, and it’s unknown if either player will play, while there’s also a possibility that one member of the “Big  3” will rest as it’s another back-to-back game.

The Kings come in with a three game losing streak and are trying to bounce back at home where they are most effective. They sit in second-to-last place in the Western conference and are currently struggling in their last 10 games (4-6), but have taken down some worthy opponents such as the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, and Memphis Grizzlies.

You must also keep in mind that even though the Kings only have four road wins, one of those was in San Antonio.

Case No. 49: Sacramento Kings (17-32)

Home record: 13-10. Last 10 games: 4-6. Series Leader: Sacramento 1-0

The Kings

  • Marcus Thornton – 19 points, 1.5 steals, 15.9 FGA (43%), 6.1 3PT FGA (35%), 3.7 FTA (86%)
  • DeMarcus Cousins – 17.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, 14.9 FGA (44%), 5.8 FTA (73%)
  • Tyreke Evans – 17.1 points, 5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 15.1 FGA (44%), 4.3 FTA (79%).

The Spurs’ main objective with Evans, keep him off of the free throw line. When the Kings defeated the Spurs in San Antonio, Evans’ driving ability was too much for the Spurs, as he consistently drew fouls or scored in the paint.

The Knight

Isaiah Thomas – 10.1 points, 7.9 FGA (43%), 3.2 3PT FGA (37%)

The Bishop

Jason Thompson (day-to-day) – 8.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.9 FGA (52%)

The Pawns

  • Terrence Williams – 7.5 points, 1 steal, 5.5 FGA (55%)
  • John Salmons– 7.5 points, 7.5 FGA (41%)
  • Jimmer Fredette – 7.2 points, 6.8 FGA (38%), 3.3 3PT FGA (37%)

Offense vs. Offense

  • 1. Points: Spurs (100.9) – Kings (98) = Spurs
  • 2. Assists: Spurs (22.5) – Kings (18.8) = Spurs
  • 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (46.6%) – Kings (42.8%) = Spurs
  • 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (39%) – Kings (31.5%) = Spurs
  • 5. Free throw attempts: Spurs (21.5) – Kings (23.6) = Kings
  • 6. Turnovers: Spurs (12.9) – Kings (14.1) = Spurs

Offensive Leader: Spurs 5-1

Defense vs. Defense

  • 1. Opponent scoring: Spurs (97.2) – Kings (103.6) = Spurs
  • 2. Opponent shooting: Spurs (45%) – Kings (48%) = Spurs
  • 3. Rebounds: Spurs (42.5) – Kings (43.5) = Kings
  • 4. Personal Fouls: Spurs (17.3) – Kings (19.4) = Spurs

Defensive Leader: Spurs 3-1

Game Expectation

It’s too complex to preview this game with the constant resting of players Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has been doing over the last week. But give Popovich credit. While he’s resting players to keep them fresh for the playoffs, the Spurs continue to win.

Tony Parker spoke about this to Bill Land and Sean Elliot on Tuesday after the Suns game.

“I think Pop’s doing a great job with me, with Manu, with Timmy,” said Parker, “we want to be healthy for the playoffs.”

As for the game at hand, regardless of which lineup the Spurs throw onto the floor, the overall team goal will be to play team defense and push the pace on offense. The Kings attack with Thornton, who is a scorer from the wing. Jackson, with one day of rest, should be ready to play defense along with rookie Kawhi Leonard who is averaging 11 points per game in his last six games according to Fox Sports Southwest.

In the post, depending on whether or not he’s focused, Cousins is the Kings’ main trailer in the paint. Duncan lead the Spurs in scoring against the Suns with 26 points and 11 rebounds, but he’ll need help from DeJuan Blair, Boris Diaw, and Matt Bonner who all played well in their time on the floor against Phoenix.

As mentioned earlier, Evans is probably the biggest X-factor in this game. The Spurs “quietly” don’t necessarily have a guard or wing player who can stop those “drive first, put your head down” point guards such as Evans, Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey, and Chicago’s Derrick Rose. Danny Green is the closest defender, but the point guards are still too quick and have too much strength for Green. If Parker or Ginobili play, they’ll need help on the defensive end from Green, Gary Neal, James Anderson, Patty Mills, and Leonard and Jackson in stopping Evans’ penetration.

If the Spurs can continue to move the ball like a natural soccer team out on the floor and play team defense like they showed in the fourth quarter against Phoenix (only 17 points), they should be able to win their sixth game in five nights and stretch their winning streak to six games regardless of which players Popovich sits or doesn’t sit.

Think about this, this Spurs team is so deep and has so many penetrators that can attack the rim that they’re winning games without having big nights beyond the arc. Against New Orleans on Saturday, the Spurs only made two three’s and still won. Against Phoenix on Tuesday, they only made six three pointers and still beat Phoenix on the road.

This is a dangerous team.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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