Brooklyn Nets hit the road, up next is the Sacramento Kings

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at the Nets' first opponent on their three game Western swing.

It hasn't been going well lately for the Brooklyn Nets. They lost their second straight close game, falling to the Indiana Pacers at home, 96-91. Now, they're heading West to begin a three game trip that will take them to Sacramento, Phoenix and Los Angeles. First up on the docket is the Sacramento Kings.

After a long and ugly fight, the Kings stayed in Sacramento. There's way more reporting, research and analysis on the Sacramento saga, but I'll keep it short and show this AMAZING video from the Kings Opening Night game against Denver:


The Kings beat the Nuggets that night by a score of 90-88. Since then, it's been rough. The Kings have lost five straight games & are hoping to turn it around vs. Brooklyn. And like the Nets, they haven't played since Saturday night.

The season so far

Here's how the two teams have fared through their first six games

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Sacramento

Record

2-4 1-5

Pace

96.83 93.46

Offensive Efficiency

98.6 98.4

Defensive Efficiency

101.9 107.6

Offensive Rebounding percentage

23 24.2

Turnover rate

16.7 13.9

Assist rate

17.1 14.8

Rebound rate

49 46.7

Free throw rate

32.2 26.3

Effective Field Goal percentage

49 45.9

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

48.6 53.3

It hasn't been going well in the early going, but that probably should have been expected. With all the personnel (coaching and players) changes, we should look to give this team the benefit of the doubt in the first couple of weeks of the year. However, if their struggles continue into January, then we should be concerned. In the early going, Kevin Garnett hasn't played up to his high standards. Why has he struggled so far? Reed Wallach is onto something:

Yes, Garnett is a fine perimeter shooter, just inside the 3-point line, but this season he has taken too many shots out there. More than 50% of his shots have been taken from the foul line extended to the short corner, and he has hit on under 40% of those attempts.

Will those mid-range shots eventually fall? Yes, but Garnett shouldn't find himself out there that often. It's a bad habit for him to take those shots. He is better off taking more shots in the paint. There's been a lot more KG settling for jumpers rather than calling for the ball in the post. Friday night in Washington, of Garnett's 11 shots, he took, eight of them came from the top of the key. Only two of those 11 shots came from inside the restricted area.

*Daniel Savitsky has some good stuff on KG too over at The Brooklyn Game

Garnett, and Deron Williams too for that matter, should return to their previous levels. Unfortunately for them, they won't have Andrei Kirilenko there to assist them. Kirilenko is dealing with back spasms again &andwon't be with the team.

On the Sacramento side of things, changes might be coming. In any sport, if your team is struggling or not performing up to standards, lineup changes are usually made. And it looks like head coach Michael Malone is about to change things up. There hasn't been any official word (as of this writing), but Malone is thinking of changing the lineup around DeMarcus Cousins.

The Kings are led by Cousins and Isaiah Thomas. Thomas has split time with Greivis Vasquez & has been great offensively. In 27 minutes a night, the lefty is averaging 18 points per game on an efficient 60.4 True Shooting. He'll put a ton of pressure on Williams and Livingston, as he's second on the team in free throws attempted a night (a very impressive 5.8 a night) and leads the team in free throw rate. The big problem for them so far has been their defense (Ziller has more here). They've been the worst in the league through the first two weeks, allowing close to 108 points per 100 possessions and opponents to shoot a league high 53.3 (eFG). As it relates to this game, their struggles inside might come back to harm them. Teams are shooting 66.4 percent against them, and Brook Lopez should see a healthy amount of touches in the paint. More on that in a minute.

Matchup to watch: Brook Lopez-DeMarcus Cousins

Lopez will have another tough matchup at the Center position. He didn't have the strongest of games against Indiana, but that could have been expected as he was wrangling with Roy Hibbert and the Pacers defense. One would assume that Lopez should have an easier time of it in Sactown. The backup bigs aren't all that great, and if Lopez can get Cousins into foul trouble (he commits 4 a game), then Brook should be in line for a big game.

He's got the organizational stability, personal security, and so far, DeMarcus Cousins has brought his A game to Sacramento. I have to admit that I wasn't particularly fond of Cousins his first three years in the league. I saw him as an inefficient player who was coasting off his potential & did more harm than good. However, I didn't notice that his True Shooting was improving each year & he was a solid rebounder. He's having a great start to the year, shooting a career high 53.2 True Shooting (OK it's not that great, but still an improvement and impressive considering how many touches he gets) and is grabbing close to 10 rebounds a night. Look for him to continue his successful play against the Nets franchise if he can stay out of foul trouble.

From the Vault


Here is Kevin Garnett's finest night and the last time the Kings played past the First Round.

More reading: Sactown Royalty

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