NBA Atlanta Hawks

Sacramento Kings vs Oklahoma City Thunder Game Preview and Predictions

Mark D.Smith – USA TODAY Sports

When the Sacramento Kings square off with the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, it will be a case study of two teams going in opposite directions. The Thunder are the toast of the Western Conference winners of five in a row, while Sacramento has skidded to a halt, winning just one out of their last four games. But these two teams share humble beginnings and more similarities than you would think.

These two teams were both linked to Seattle at one point. The Seattle Supersonics were sold to a group representing Oklahoma City where they were then rebranded the Thunder and have been successful with largely the same exact roster. The Kings’ previous ownership flirted with multiple cities including Virginia Beach, Anaheim, Louisville, Las Vegas and, you guessed it, Seattle, until software magnate Vivek Ranadive stepped in with his charm and wowed enough to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

It’s still a year or two before Sacramento can compete with some of the powerhouses in the Western Conference, but at 4-11, Sacramento desperately needs a win. They can do it tonight, but in order to do that, the team must play as one and cut down on the turnovers. The Kings may want to emulate the Thunder’s success, and that’s not a bad place — or team —  to start with, but this team must walk before it can run. Tonight is a perfect opportunity to make a statement.

Probable Starters

  • Grevis Vasquez
  • Ben McLemore
  • Derrick Williams
  • Jason Thompson
  • DeMarcus Cousins

Players To Watch

  • McLemore has been named Western Conference Rookie Of The Month and a big game tonight against one of the Western Conference’s more elite teams could catapult McLemore higher up on the rookie of the year conversation. However, a bad game could get ugly, because his replacement, Marcus Thornton, has been spotty all season. The Kings need a big effort from its young rookie tonight.
  • Russell Westbrook has been unstoppable in his return, averaging 21.1 points since coming back from his injury. That means big trouble for Kings guards Isaiah Thomas and Vasquez, who have both had trouble on the defensive end this season. They will have a tough time containing and neutralizing Westbrook tonight, and we haven’t even mentioned Kevin Durant.

 Prediction

  • Sacramento plans to hand out 10,000 thunder noisemakers to their fans at tonight’s game. That should create a fairly hostile environment for the Thunder at Sleep Train Arena, but that probably won’t be enough to get past the Thunder. This game may end up being closer than many think, but the Thunder have enough firepower to get the job done.

Karim Akbar is a Sacramento Kings writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kuhreem , “Like” his RantSports page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.