Philadelphia 76ers vs Sacramento Kings Preview


Tonight at 10 P.M. Eastern time the Philadelphia 76ers (2-31) will take on the Sacramento Kings (12-19) at the Sleep Train Arena looking for win number three.

This game is the 4th of a 6-game long road trip for the Sixers, and one that is a very winnable for a struggling Philadelphia team.

The Sixers are coming off a loss against the Utah Jazz, in a game where they had their chance to win, but execution towards the end of the game was rough. Despite getting thrashed on the boards in Salt Lake City, the 76ers had the lead several times, and almost won an entire two games in a row.

It was not to be however, as the Sixers fell 91-95 to Utah and once again fans could only be excited about 50% off Papa Johns the next day.

As for the Kings, their record this year is mediocre but it is the concerns of off-the-court issues that have Sacramento fans worried the most. There is constant speculation that George Karl is not meshing well with his players, or the front office, and we got to see some of that frustration come to a head when Karl stomped off at a post-game press conference after a loss against the Trail Blazers.

Sacramento played with fire rostering the kind of personalities they have, and combining it with coach Karl, and they seem to be paying the price when it comes to on-court performance. Most recently in a blowout loss against the Golden State Warriors Monday night. Demarcus Cousins was ejected in that game, and the Kings were forced to lean on Omar Casspi trying to outshoot Stephen Curry. Not exactly a perfect strategy…

As for tonights game, the Kings have a distinct advantage in proven NBA talent over the Sixers, and they will need to utilize some veteran savvy to stifle a Philadelphia team that has come to play on this long road trip.

If the past two games were any sort of preview of what is to come next for Philadelphia, I would say things are looking up. Obviously tanking is always goal number one, but some wins here-and-there coupled with growth on display from their young talent is always a positive.

Three big keys to victory for the Sixers are as followed:

Keep the Ish SmithNerlens Noel combo going-

The two have started exactly how they left off last season. They have incredible chemistry that is leading to fantastic play from the both of them including some awesome alley-oops in Utah. It’s clear the two men love playing with each other, and with Kings’ rookie rim protector Willie Cauley-Stein out with a hand injury, we could see more connections from this budding pick-and-roll machine.

Let Jahlil Okafor run the second unit-

Big-Jah missed the first two games of Ish Smith‘s return allowing Noel to rekindle his success at the center position, and it is resulting in more success for the whole team offensively. Okafor demands a lot of touches in the low post, and as a result a lot of other guys miss out on their own scoring opportunities. With Okafor on the second unit, there will be even less scoring power surrounding him, and he can dominate the other team’s backup center with ease, all while the starting unit tries to carry over the solid play from the past two games.

I’m not saying this should be the strategy every game, but considering this is Jahlil’s first game back from right knee soreness, it would be wise to take things slow.

Get Sauce Castillo going against his former team-

Nik Stauskas followed up a lovely 17-point performance in the Win over Phoenix Suns with a complete dud of a showing in against the Jazz. He displayed his shooting touch in Phoenix, and looked to show off why he was a top ten pick for the first time this season, but Stauskas just couldn’t transition that solid play in Utah.

There is certainly some extra motivation for Sauce to do his thing tonight against a team that traded him just one year after drafting him 8th overall. I’m interested to see how that affects his mindset in terms of scoring because as of late Nik has been a bit passive offensively. If he can sink a 3-pointer of two early on maybe we will see a big performance from Stauskas as sort of a little payback.

More 76ers: It's Time to Start Drafting for Fit

You can watch the game on CSN at 10 P.M. EST, or tune into 97.5 The Fanatic and listen to the broadcast there.

Make sure you follow The Sixer Sense @Sixersense, and @Dalton_Lanoza for in-game analysis.