[Game] Kings vs. Raptors, 1/8/2021 7pm PST, 10pm EST


The Game Thread Dude
Awards time!

Tony Delk Memorial - Coby White. Yes, I know Coby is probably Chicago’s best young prospect. At the same time 36 points is twice his usual output and he had a 7-0 assist to turnover ratio, which is insane unless you’re Tyrese Haliburton. And he managed to do this despite playing next to a guy who had a 37% USG rate for the game.

Luke Walton Vacuum Cleaner Award - Luke Walton.

Jason Hart/Andres Nocioni - Cory Joseph. Much like Luke Walton, CoJo has a way of just vacuuming up way more minutes than he deserves. As the one bench player to not score in double figures despite being second to Tyrese in minutes off the bench. With De’Aaron hurt, I was convinced Luke was going to play CoJo major minutes in crunchtime but thankfully Tyrese was too good for that to happen.

Mikki Moore - Otto Porter. The former Kingsfans.com draft crush had a decidedly impactful night with 3 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in 26 minutes while also continously getting destroyed by the combination of Richaun Holmes/Harrison Barnes/Marvin Bagley/Nemanja Bjelica/Glenn Robinson III. The Bulls front court in general seemed absolutely disinterested in defending anyone, leading to all three of our starting front court players having twenty point nights, Bjeli getting his customary 10, and Glenn Robinson looking like a vital part of the rotation for a single night. The Kings ending up with Harrison Barnes instead of panicking and trading for Otto is another example of waiting to pounce on the right deal instead of freaking out and trading everything for a walking single-single on a max contract.

WTF Moment - Tyrese comes back from injury, only for us to have De’Aaron pull a hammy within five minutes of tipoff. It’s like the basketball gods are intensely opposed to the Kings having multiple healthy good players at once.

Tonight brings us a game against the 1-6 Toronto Raptors. I’m gonna chalk up all those rumors about Masai Ujiri leaving the Raptors front office to him looking at the combination of salary, lack of frontline talent, and deciding to get the hell off the boat before it hit a Siakam meltdown iceberg.

I don’t think the Raptors are necessarily a bad team but they currently do look like a collection of leftover pieces in search of a direction. While last season and the bubble made the Raptors look like contenders despite losing Kawhi, replacing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka with a 34-year old Aron Baynes and Alex Len apparently didn’t work out as great as the Raptors front office intended it to. Lowry is still good, though it feels like the Raptors probably need to flip him to a contender for assets before he becomes a free agent this offseason. OG is a nice 3-and-D wing and would probably fetch a Kings ransom on the trade market if Ujiri felt like moving him for some reason. Siakam and Fred Van Vleet are both good ”younger” complimentary players but neither has turned out to be the lead dog that the Raptors were hoping they’d get when Giannis randomly decided to move to Canada, a fantasy that failed to materialize.

In general, it sorta feels like the Raptors are caught in Ron Ron/Brad Miller Kings mode, where they’ve still got enough in the tank to potential get into the playoffs but not enough to actually make some noise, which naturally means they’re probably gonna wipe the floor with us tonight.

Match-ups (Note: I’m working on the assumption that Fox plays tonight)
Aron Barnes v. Richaun Holmes: We haven’t gotten any word about Holmes’s ankle which makes me think he’s good to go. In a battle of great backup Phoenix Suns bigs who got let go of for some reason, Richaun has been on a major hot streak. Meanwhile, Baynes has not looked too great to start his Raptors career, failing to fill the void left by the two great defenders who were in his place last season. Advantage: Holmes.

Pascal Siakam v. Marvin Bagley: Pascal Siakam was named a 2020 NBA All-Star, looking like he was primed to fill that Kawhi hole and take the Raptors back to the finals. Then COVID-19 hit and Pascal hasn’t looked the same since. He hasn’t looked awful, mind you, but he certainly hasn’t proven himself to be more than a third option on an elite team like the NBA champ Raptors were. Shotwise, he’s actually been worse from the perimeter than Marvin Bagley has been this season. Defensively, Siakam hasn’t regressed so much as losing Gasol and Ibaka has made it so any error he does make is amplified by not having an All-Defensive player playing goalie. Marvin on the other hand, Is coming off his best game of the season in which he was yet again summarily benched in the 4th quarter through no fault of his own. As long as Luke doesn’t randomly draw up more post isos for Marvin for some unfathomable reason, I’d expect more of these sorts of performances from the man as a high straight-line pick and roll player and also as a face-up scorer. On defense, at least he tries. Advantage: Siakam.

OG Anunoby v. Harrison Barnes: Harrison, quietly the Kings’ most consistent player this season, is coming off another strong 20 point performance, with a lot of those points coming while he played as a power forward with the bench unit. OG has, likewise, settled into being a steady NBA player in the fourth season of his career. Averaging nearly 2 steals in 35 minutes a game. OG’s three point stroke hasn’t really been there to start the year but decades of watching the Kings tells me that this means he is going to be shooting like Steph tonight. It’s a measure of my respect for Black Falcon that I still think he’ll get the best of this matchup. Advantage: Barnes.

Fred Van Vleet v. Buddy Hield: Buddy has been struggling with his shot to start the year but has remained playable thanks to his newfound effort on the defensive end and the fact that the few shots that he does make happen to be clutch as hell. His counterpart, Van Vleet, has been shooting well on the other hand, having newly been paid in the offseason. While he’s undersized for a shooting guard, Van Vleet has become Toronto’s leading scorer and between his role on the team and abilities and deficiencies has settled into the Mike Bibby role from those mid-2000s Kings teams. At the same time, Buddy has to start shooting well at some point and I feel like this might be the game where his shooting percentage finally rises from the .350 range where it sits now to a slightly more believable number. Advantage: Wash.

Kyle Lowry v. De’Aaron Fox: Admittedly, I’m not sure Swipa plays in this game, what with another game on the schedule for tomorrow. If he does, he’s going against super steady leadguard Kyle Lowry, who is still only 34 years old despite seemingly being in the league for 30 years. My qualms with him in the clutch aside, Lowry has been one of the leagues most under appreciated star guards for years now and will probably net the Raptors a nice package come the trade deadline as a contender looks to make a last push. That all said, De’Aaron absolutely shredded him in crunchtime in the last pre-COVID game of the 2019 season and Lowry does look a step slower this year than he did last. It depends on how Fox’s hammy holds up. Advantage: Wash

Benches: Tyrese is the best player on both teams benches. Chris Boucher and Norman Powell are the top Raptors bench guys and it always seems like Powell destroys us every time we play him. After that, their bench gets real thin real fast. Meanwhile, one could argue Walton has been underutilizing his bench depth, with CoJo seeing a huge amount of minutes, Bjeli seeing some, Glenn Robinson III seeing some on occassion, Hassan being banished, and the rest of the bench not seeing any time at all unless its the last three minutes of us getting blown out by thirty. But Tyrese is awesome and in this matchup, that’s all that matters. Advantage: Kings

Final Prediction: Kings 124, Raptors 118
Let’s make this a streak. Stay healthy. Screw tanking. And in Monte we trust.
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covers.com has holmes out and fox questionable (but it is dated yesterday, 1/7)

nba report doesn't list holmes at all, just fox (questionable)

miracle recoveries?
In his post-game interview on Wednesday Holmes was completely dismissive of his injury. That's no guarantee, but I'd bee surprised not to see him out there.

W/VanFleet and Siakam, Lowry is definitely one of their big 3. Raptors are 1-6, but they're been very competitive - lost by 7 to the Sixers, by 5 to San Antonio, by 4 to New Orleans, 8 to Phoenix.... Kings obviously not in a position to take anyone lightly, and definitely not this team.

OTOH, playing the way they say they want to play - fast pace, high energy, both of which are wholly within their control - this is the kind of games the Kings should and must win especially w/Lowry out.
Toronto down from -5 1/2 to -1.

That's a big swing for one guy (Lowry), so, must be some Kings money coming in (including mine at +5 - feel like a winner already).

I hope Cojo is not first in for Fox, but Walton is a creature of habit.

I'd prefer Tyrese for Fox, then Cojo for Buddy (later).
Toronto down from -5 1/2 to -1.

That's a big swing for one guy (Lowry), so, must be some Kings money coming in (including mine at +5 - feel like a winner already).

I hope Cojo is not first in for Fox, but Walton is a creature of habit.

I'd prefer Tyrese for Fox, then Cojo for Buddy (later).
I got the Full at 5.5 and the Half at .5. Kings. We'll see.
Huge to see he can do it.

Next to see if he can be consistently making that right play.
On that note, it's kind of crazy how impatient we are with regards to Bagley. I know this is blasphemous to say, but he really has shown flashes of incredible potential this season. And yes, it's his third season, but he only played 75 NBA games before this season, so it really is like a sophomore campaign.

That said, while he has not shown consistency yet and hasn't quite put it all together, he has shown flashes of the following so far this season:
  1. Improved individual defense
  2. Improved defensive awareness and rotations
  3. Improved shooting ability
  4. Now improved court vision and decision making
Again, he hasn't done all those things consistently or together, but he has done all those things at some point this season. Here's to hoping he can put it all together at the same time and consistently. He's still a super young player in both age and experience.