clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Boston Celtics at Sacramento Kings Game #71 3/18/22

The Celtics continue their Western road trip with a stop in Sacramento to take on the Kings.

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Celtics continue their 4 game Western road trip with a stop in Sacramento to take on the Kings. This is the second and final game between these two teams this season. When they met in Boston on January 25, The Celtics totally dominated the Kings with a 128-75 win. The Kings were missing De’Aaron Fox in that game while the Celtics were mostly healthy. The Celtics led by as many as 60 points and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown outscored the Kings by themselves, 66-52, before being removed from the game late in the third quarter.

These two teams will look quite different than when they met in January. The Kings no longer have Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Triston Thompson, and Marvin Bagley. Instead, they have Justin Holiday, Domantas Sabonis and Donte DiVincenzo. Since February 9, when Sabonis joined the team, the Kings have averaged 114 points on 47.7% shooting. In their current home stand, the Kings beat the Chicago Bulls and lost a very competitive game to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics no longer have Josh Richardson, Dennis Schroder and Enes Kanter and instead have Derrick White and Daniel Theis.

This is the second game of a 4 game Western road trip for the Celtics. They opened the trip with an impressive 110-88 win over the Golden State Warriors. They will complete the trip with back to back games on Sunday and Monday against the Nuggets and the Thunder. The Celtics have 6 road games and 5 home games left after this game. These games include important games that could determine their playoff position on the road against Toronto, Chicago and Milwaukee and at home against the Heat.

This is the 3rd game of a 4 game home stand for the Kings. They are 1-1 so far with a win over the Chicago Bulls and a competitive loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. They will host Phoenix on Sunday to close out the home stand. They will then head out on a 5 game road trip.

The Celtics have moved up to 4th in the East. They are looking for their second straight win and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. They are 18-16 on the road and 12-12 against Western Conference opponents. They are just 1 game behind 3rd place Philadelphia, 2 games behind 2nd place Milwaukee, and 4 games behind first place Miami. They are half a game ahead of 5th place Chicago, 2.5 games ahead of both 6th place Cleveland and 7th place Toronto, and 6 games ahead of 8th place Brooklyn.

The Kings are 13th in the West and are coming off a loss. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games and 16-21 at home. They are 8-18 against Eastern Conference teams. They are 2.5 games behind both 11th place Houston and 12th place Portland. They are 4 behind 10th place New Orleans. They are 4 ahead of 14th place Oklahoma City and 7 ahead of last place Houston.

For the Celtics, Aaron Nesmith remains out with the ankle injury. For the Kings, De’Aaron Fox is questionable with a hand injury. He injured the hand on Wednesday against the Bucks and at this time it is unknown if he can play in this one. If he can’t play, I expect Davion Mitchell to get the start in his place. Jeremy Lamb (personal) and Terrence Davis II (wrist) are both out.

Probable Celtics Starters

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams

Celtics Reserves
Payton Pritchard
Grant Williams
Derrick White
Daniel Theis
Luke Kornet
Sam Hauser
Malik Fitts
Nick Stauskas

Injuries
Aaron Nesmith (ankle) out

Two-Way Players
Brodric Thomas
Matt Ryan

Head Coach
Ime Udoka

Probable Kings Starters

PG: De’Aaron Fox
SG: Justin Holiday
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Trey Lyles
C : Domantas Sabonis

Kings Reserves
Donte DiVincenzo
Maurice Harkless
Richaun Holmes
Josh Jackson
Damian Jones
Alex Len
Chimezie Metu
Davion Mitchell

Injuries
De’Aaron Fox (hand) questionable
Terence Davis II (wrist) out
Jeremy Lamb (personal) out

Two Way Players
Neemias Queta

Head Coach
Alvin Gentry (Interim)

Key Matchups

Marcus Smart vs De’Aaron Fox
Fox is averaging 23.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is shooting 47.3% from the field but just 29.7% from beyond the arc. Fox is questionable for this game and if he can’t play, expect Davion Mitchell to get the start.

Robert Williams III vs Domantas Sabonis
Sabonis is averaging 18.7 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. He is shooting 57.2% from the field and 30.1% from beyond the arc. Although this is the Kings second game against the Celtics, this is Sabonis’ 3rd game after playing two games against the Celtics with the Pacers. In his last game against the Celtics, he put up a triple double of 11 points, 22 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Honorable Mention
Jayson Tatum vs Harrison Barnes
Barnes is averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He is shooting 47.3% from the field and 41.4% from beyond the arc. The Celtics need to especially stay with him on the perimeter where he is shooting 3’s very well. The Celtics need a good game from Jayson Tatum on both ends of the court.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always the key to every game. The Kings have a defensive rating of 114.7(28th). The Celtics defensive rating is 105.5, tops in the league. The Celtics need to especially defend the paint as the Kings are 5th in the league, scoring 49.5 points in the paint per game. The Kings are averaging 110.5 points per game for the year, but since acquiring Sabonis, they are averaging 114 points per game and the Celtics are going to need to continue to play tough defense if they want to win this game.

Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to put out extra effort to grab the rebounds on both ends of the court. By doing so, they limit the second chance points and fast breaks for the Kings and also give themselves extra possessions. The Celtics are averaging 46.4 rebounds per game to 43.3 rebounds per game for the Kings. The Celtics have to put out extra effort to beat the Kings to the boards. Sabonis is especially a good rebounder and the Celtics will need to keep him off the boards.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after loose balls, rebounds and also be more aggressive defensively. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and also in moving the ball. The more aggressive team usually gets the calls and also the win. The Celtics have to play like the team that wants it more. I say this after Marcus Smart’s hustle for a loose ball was questioned by Steve Kerr but that kind of aggressiveness is key to winning and I want Marcus (and everyone else) to continue to be aggressive and to dive for loose balls and play hard.

Focus and Effort - The Celtics need to stay focused on playing the right way. They have to focus on moving the ball carefully, on taking good shots, on going after loose balls and on playing the right way. This season, the Celtics have lost a few games they should have won because they allowed their focus and effort, especially on defense, to lag. The Celtics must play with increased focus and effort if they expect to beat the Kings.

X-Factors
Underestimation - The Celtics blew out the Kings in Boston and had a very easy time with them. Also, the Kings have the 3rd worst record in the Western Conference. The Celtics can’t afford to underestimate them because they are a different team than the one they blew out in January. Domantas Sabonis has made them much tougher. Also, the Celtics lost to Detroit, who had the second worst record in the league at the time. They must take this team seriously and play as hard as they did against the Warriors or they could be surprised with a loss in a game they should very much win.

Officiating - Officiating can always be an x-factor. Every crew will call the game differently. Some will call every little thing and the game will have no flow. Others will let a lot go and let them play. Some crews favor the home team while others call it evenly. The Celtics need to adjust to how the game is called and not let the officials take away their focus. They also need to focus on playing and not on complaining about the calls.

DraftKings

According to our friends at DraftKings, the Celtics are 9.5-favorites tonight in Sacramento. That’s largely affected by De’Aaron Fox’s questionable tag with a jammed finger and Boston coming in to Golden 1 Center after a dominating win against the Golden State Warriors.

The Kings feature a bunch of players that the Celtics — or at least their fans — have all been interested in finding a way to get them to Boston for the last several seasons. Harrison Barnes’ name has consistently come up as a third wing to play with Brown and Tatum. When there were rumors that Sacramento might look to make major changes, some speculated that De’Aaron Fox could be the young point guard to unlock the Celtics’ offense. Newly acquired Domantas Sabonis was another name at the trade deadline that many speculated would look good in green.

They’re all good players surrounded by an interesting young supporting cast, but so far, it just hasn’t gelled late in the season. They’re losers of 10 of their last 15 games since the Tyrese Haliburton trade. They rank in the bottom-third of the league’s defenses and with the Celtics peaking on offense (top-5 over the last 15 games), this could be a good opportunity for Boston to get ahead early like they did against the Warriors, hold the lead, and give their starters some rest before heading to the high altitude of Denver on Sunday.

When the Kings were in Boston in late January, they were crushed by 53 points, but don’t let that fool you. The Celtics’ last three trips to the California capital have been trap games where they’ve dropped the last two winnable games including a missed game-winning floater from Marcus Smart. Beware the trap game.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.