The New Orleans Pelicans have one blowout and one close victory over the Sacramento Kings this season, but they will play at Golden One Center for the first time and are currently on a three-game road losing streak. Can they pull off another win over the Kings and advance to the semifinals?
Catch the game tomorrow at 8:30 AM, Manila time.
AWAY: New Orleans Pelicans (11-10, 3-6 AWAY)
Projected starting five:
- CJ McCollum
- Brandon Ingram
- Herb Jones
- Zion Williamson
- Jonas Valanciunas
Brandon Ingram’s combination of height and skill has been huge for the Pelicans against the Kings. He’s leading the team by averaging 27 points in the two wins against Sacramento and they don’t particularly have any wing defenders that match up well with him. He’s even shooting 66.7% from three on 4.5 attempts per game – way above his normal rate.
The other weapon that the Kings don’t have an answer for is Zion Williamson, who has used is unique mix of strength and ability to bully Sacramento in the post with averages of 25.5 points, four rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals.
Physicality will be a key for the Pelicans as they also have a skilled big man in Jonas Valanciunas who will need to wear down Domantas Sabonis. Valanciunas is doing it all against the Kings with 12.5 points, 12 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
HOME: Sacramento Kings (11-7 ,6-2 HOME)
Projected starting five:
- De’Aaron Fox
- Kevin Huerter
- Harrison Barnes
- Keegan Murray
- Domantas Sabonis
It hasn’t been particularly easy for De’Aaron Fox against the Pelicans so far, as he’s well below his league averages against New Orleans. He’s only averaging 20 points against the Pelicans and a team-worst plus/minus of -23.
However, Fox has shown this year that he plays really well in front of his home fans who have finally found their voice again thanks to the Kings playing well over last season and this campaign. He recently grabbed his career high in assists with 16 against the defending champs and his ability to spread the ball and get other teammates open shots thanks to his ability to drive and hit the mid-range jumper will define whether or not they can win.
Domantas Sabonis is averaging 16.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and seven assists, but he has had trouble dealing with countryman Jonas Valanciunas’ size and strength.
Interior defense will be the key for a Kings victory as they’ll need to stop Zion Williamson. Keegan Murray, who recently returned from a back injury, will be working in tandem with Harrison Barnes to try to contain him.
The Kings also live and die by the three-pointer, so if they get their triples to start falling early, expect the complexion of the game to change.
Handicap: The Kings (-4.5) cover the spread.
Over/Under: The total goes over 236.