The Sacramento Kings (1-6) are now on a five-game losing skid after suffering a 101-83 beatdown at the hands of the Indiana Pacers last night. The Kings’ offense has struggled mightily recently, posting just 83 points in back-to-back games. Rookie De’Aaron Fox was the lone bright spot as he bounced back from a horrific two-point, 1-of-8 shooting performance to score 18 points, with four rebounds and five assists off the bench.
On the flipside, the Boston Celtics have extended their winning streak to five games after an impressive 108-94 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Kyrie Irving led the way once again with 24 points, his third 24-point outing in a row. Jaylen Brown had 18 points while All-Star big man Al Horford had another strong all-around performance with 14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
Three keys to the game
Boston’s defense – The Celtics have been outstanding defensively thus far this season and are currently No. 1 in the league in terms of defensive efficiency. More impressively, they are no longer getting bullied on the boards, taking away one of their key weaknesses from last season.
Sacramento’s offense – The Celtics’ much-improved defense could pose big problems for the Kings, who have struggled to put points on the board. Buddy Hield, in particular, needs to snap out of his early season slump for the Kings to stand any chance. The second-year shooting guard is averaging just 10.3 points per game on 35 percent shooting.
Battle of the benches – Both coaches aren’t afraid to go deep into their benches, so the reserves could play a crucial part tonight. The Kings specifically need more offense from their second unit apart from Fox, who has been impressive thus far.
Matchup to watch
De’Aaron Fox vs Marcus Smart – Not only has Fox quickly become the Kings’ most crucial reserve, he’s arguably their best and most consistent offensive weapon. However, he could find life difficult if he goes up against the Celtics’ own star sixth man, Marcus Smart, who will likely get the assignment of covering Fox if the rookie causes the Celtics some problems.
Kings projected starting lineup
PG – George Hill | SG – Buddy Hield | SF – Bogdan Bogdanovic | PF – Zach Randolph | C – Willie Cauley-Stein
Celtics projected starting lineup
PG – Kyrie Irving | SG – Jaylen Brown | SF -Jayson Tatum | PF – Al Horford | C – Aron Baynes
Al Horford is having a strong season thus far, averaging 16.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists over his last five games. He will have a particularly advantageous matchup tonight against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing centers, so look for Horford to feast when the Celtics go small.
The Celtics are simply rolling at the moment, while the Kings can’t score enough to be trusted to cover even a double-digit spread. Take Boston to blow out Sacramento at home to cover a 12.5-point spread.
The Celtics grab their sixth win in a row with a convincing 105-87 home win.
This game will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and NBC Sports Boston. Tip-off at TD Garden will be at 7:30 pm Eastern.
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