The Kings play the Bulls tomorrow. This is the Bulls team that won 62 games last season, but this is also the Bulls team that lost to the Warriors on Monday.
“When you’re on the road, you have to understand how difficult it is to win on the road. You prepare yourself by being ready at the start of the game and you have to play defense. And you can’t make it easy on them. You’ve got to take care of the ball. You’ve got to eliminate all the ways in which you beat yourself first. And then you have to establish your defensive game first, you’ve got to know who you are. Defend, rebound, inside-out, share the ball, low turnovers.”
This is Tom Thibodeau talking about a 62 game winner of a year ago, and a team that played really poorly against the Warriors on Monday night. Now listen to Paul Westphal talk about what the Kings did up in Portland Tuesday night.
Here's a bottom line: The Kings shot a 52.7 eFG% against the Lakers, and 39.6% vs the Blazers. Want to beat the Bulls? You'll have to make more shots consistently. The Bulls shot a 44.4 eFG% vs the Lakers on Christmas Day, and against the Warriors on Monday the Bulls shot a 46.3 eFG%. The Bulls turned it over quite a bit vs the Warriors, but not against the Lakers. Against the Lakers, the Bulls had a 100 even ORtg. Against the Warriors, the Bulls had a 98 ORtg. The Kings had a 113.2 ORtg vs the Lakers and a 87.9 ORtg vs the Blazers.
Rather than drone on any further, I'd like to just simply throw out what I'd like to see this team do tomorrow.
- Tyreke Evans come out and show why he's such an important player the Kings have faith in. The Bulls are beatable, but not if Evans doesn't come out roaring and setting the table for this team all night. When the Bulls make a run, it would be nice if Evans could answer it with some greatness of his own. This is a home game, and while the Bulls have had 2 days off, it's also true that defending your homecourt is one of the most important steps in becoming a better team. Tyreke Evans needs to be in attack mode and play at his best on 2 ends of the court for the Kings to win. There is an opportunity here; Tyreke needs to take it. (Cue "theme of the season" with violins in the background.)
- The continued shot selection of DeMarcus Cousins progressing. Last year I thought one of the problems (and I think it's a problem this year) is that Cousins doesn't shoot too many perimeter shots, but that when he catches the ball on the perimeter he's too worried about getting somewhere else on the floor after catching the ball. Once Cuz puts the ball on the floor you can bet that the best thing possible for the Kings in that scenario is that Cuz gets fouled. Typically it's a turnover or a bad off balanced shot.
- What I would like to see DeMarcus Cousins do as the season progresses starting tomorrow night is shooting in rhythm on the perimeter and not rushing to get inside all the time. When on the block, and I'm not suggesting that Cuz can't play on the block necessarily, make your move decisively as possible. My biggest issue with DeMarcus Cousins' post play is that he isn't very aggressive in getting his shots in the most efficient way possible. I don't think Cousins will ever be Zach Randolph on the block good, but there is no reason quality shots can't happen more consistently. On the other hand, against a team like Chicago it may be an advantage for Cousins to take 5 or 6 of those perimeter shots to keep the paint less packed. (It is a shot he can hit consistently if he's balanced and in rhythm. The key is those 2 things though, and Cousins doesn't do that every possession.) If Cousins doesn't move faster to get a high quality shot on the block, it won't matter how many shots he gets there in my estimation.
- I would like to see Jimmer Fredette be more aggressive in looking for his shot. There were too many times against Portland and LA when Jimmer looked far too tentative in getting his shot. Part of that is adjusting to the speed of the NBA game (which Jimmer is certainly adjusting to), and part of that is Jimmer is trying too hard to get other guys shots first at times. If Jimmer just goes out and hits a couple in a row, it should help him relax just a little. Relaxing and finding a comfort level certainly can't hurt anyway.
What I really want to see is a competitive 48 minute basketball game. If the Bulls come out like gangbusters (and they might), they will probably win. But the Kings can hang in there in part because it's their home court and in part because when their cylinders are operating properly this Kings team can play with anyone. They just have that kind of talent. The only thing that would be exceptionally disappointing is if the Kings are as lethargic and slow as they were in Portland for long stretches of the 2nd half.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com on what ails the Bulls these days. (It's the same Sam Smith who wrote Jordan Rules.)
In case you didn't click on the Tom Thibodeau link up top, here it is again. It's from Matt McHale of By the Horns (True Hoop Network). Alex Sonty of Blog A Bull discussing how improved Derrick Rose's 3 pt shot is.
Derrick Rose talking about what he needs to "work" on. Via KC Johnson and the Chicago Tribune.
Kyle Korver and Tim Tebow? There is a connection. From Mike McGraw and the Daily Herald.