The Nets open up a tough week against Sacramento

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

That didn't go well. Facing a team that was coming off a disastrous home loss on Wednesday night and focused solely on draft position, the Brooklyn Nets couldn't extend the winning streak and fell to the Celtics 91-84. The Nets are at .500 and are 2.5 games behind Washington for the fifth seed and two games ahead of Charlotte for the sixth seed.

Coming to town will be the Sacramento Kings. At 22-40, they're no where near playoff contention but it looks as if they're building nicely towards the future. They're in good draft position as of this writing, but history has shown us time and time again that a high draft position doesn't automatically mean the team will make the right selection.

The last time the Nets played Sacramento, they got obliterated 107-86. The rosters are much different from the first time around, as the Kings traded for Rudy Gay and Brooklyn got Marcus Thornton.

The season so far

What's up with these two? Check the stats:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Sacramento

Record

30-30 22-40

Pace

94.12 96.79

Offensive Efficiency

102.8 103.9

Defensive Efficiency

104 106.4

Offensive Rebounding percentage

22.1 27.8

Turnover rate

15.4 14.9

Assist rate

16.6 15.5

Rebound rate

47.2 51.4

Free throw rate

31.4 32.6

Effective Field Goal percentage

50.1 48.8

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.4 51.5

Kevin Garnett missed another one due to his back spasms. No word yet on his availability. If he doesn't play, Mason Plumlee will get the start in his place.

Joe Johnson is coming off a pretty poor game. Johnson only shot 9-21 after playing excellent ball against Memphis & Chicago. He'll have the rookie Ben McLemore on him to start off. McLemore hasn't had a great debut campaign as his 7.4 PER is the worst of the players in the rotation.

Since he's joined Sacramento, Rudy Gay has played great. In his 38 games as a King, Gay has averaged 21 points and six rebounds on a true shooting percentage of 58.4, a career high. He's been criticized throughout his career for settling too much, but that doesn't appear to be the case from the outside looking in. The majority of his attempts have come inside the painted area and he's been getting to the foul line at a career high rate. There are questions as to his future with the Kings franchise, but if (if!) he continues to play at this level, the Kings will have a great building block going into the future.

There were rumors that he was going to be moved at the trading deadline, but Isaiah Thomas is still here. The lefty has taken another step forward and is averaging 20 points and six assists a game. The matchup against Deron Williams will be very exciting to watch. Deron is one of the few Nets to have a decent game on Friday, & he's managed to turn his first half struggles into a distant memory. He (like every other Net) was thoroughly outplayed in the Sacramento meeting so look for him to set the pace early. IT is a solid jump shooter and has hit on about 37 percent of his three point attempts this year.

Reggie Evans is making his return to Brooklyn, so look for him to get a nice hand when he enters the game.

Player to watch: DeMarcus Cousins

Anybody wanna bring up the Derrick Favors-Cousins debates again? No? Well ok. To get an idea as to how important Cousins is to the Kings' future, Akis Yerocostas of Sactown Royalty explains:

He's the first true franchise player the Kings have had in a long time, and that wasn't so certain the last three years he was here.  There were good statistical arguments the last few years that the Kings were actually better those last three years with DeMarcus off the floor; The same cannot be said this year, even with the addition of an efficient Rudy Gay and improving Isaiah Thomas.  Just look at Sacramento's seven-game losing streak without him.

I'll admit that I wasn't one of Cousins' biggest fans going into this season. He wasn't that efficient from the field, couldn't finish around the rim and was bad defensively. However, I should have taken into account all of the turmoil around the Kings and the fact that he's still in his early 20s. He's been having a career year for Sacramento, averaging career highs in points per game, rebounds per game and true shooting percentage. Most importantly on offense, he's lived at the foul line. He's averaging a career high nine free throw attempts a game and is fifth overall in total FTAs. On defense, he's gotten better but can still get better. Sacramento is five points better per 100 possessions with Cousins playing, but he's allowing opponents to shoot 51 percent when he's guarding the rim. He also has a foul problem too, but with more time he'll get better. He missed some time due to an ankle injury & one for suspension, but he's been cool for the most part. I should also add he's a better person than I am because I would've put them hands on Dennis Schroeder after he punched my groin area.

All signs point to DMC having a big night. With Garnett not at full strength, Cousins should dominate Plumlee. Mason has a foul problem (five per 36 minutes) so look for the Kings to feature Cousins early and often. Once Plumlee hits the bench, Andray Blatche & Jason Collins will get a crack at him. They're hoping that they can use their size to slow Cousins down, but I wouldn't bet on it.

From the Vault

The Kings are up 2-1 on the defending Western Conference Champion Utah Jazz in the 1999 Western Conference Quarterfinals. Can they pull off the upset?


More reading: Sactown Royalty

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