De’Aaron Fox and the youthful Sacramento Kings (23-22) travel to the Little Caesars Arena to take on Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons (20-24) on Saturday January 19, at 7:00 pm. In the previous meeting between these two teams, the Kings were victorious winning 112-102. Blake Griffin sat out this game to rest for his revenge showdown with the Clippers, and this showed how poor the Pistons really are without Griffin. Stanley Johnson led the Pistons with only sixteen points, followed with fifteen each from Bruce Brown and Reggie Bullock. The Kings were led by Hield as normal, and bench big-man Harry Giles added fourteen. No one scored above twenty points making for very balanced scoring for both teams.
The Kings were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, but they are floating around .500 in the tough Western conference. This 2018-19 Kings renaissance is being led by sharpshooter Buddy Hield (20.2 ppg) and most improved player candidate De’Aaron Fox (17.7 ppg), who are both averaging career highs in points. The Kings are one of the most interesting teams to watch this year with their run-n-gun style of basketball. Sacramento is second in the league in three-point percentage and loves to score with one of the best offenses in the league. In their most recent game, the Kings lost by nineteen points in a rough 114-95 defeat at the hands of the Hornets. The only bright spot was Buddy Hield shooting 50% from the field and 55% from three, scoring twenty-four.
The Pistons are coming off back to back wins for the first time in 2019, with wins over the Heat and Magic. In the game last night, Andre Drummond took an elbow to the face and left for the game. Additionally, in Ish Smith’s third game back from a long absence, he also is now listed day-to-day. Blake Griffin and Zaza Pachulia both benefited from Drummond’s absence with Griffin scoring thirty-two and Zaza playing a season high twenty-eight minutes. Pistons’ sharpshooters Luke Kennard and Reggie Bullock combined for forty-one points and a nice 44% three-point percentage.
Like so many other Pistons’ games, they need to out shoot the opposing team. Due to Drummond and Smith’s expected absences would see the Pistons change up the line-up. Three-point specialist Jose Calderon should get more minutes with no Smith, and the Pistons could play a small ball lineup with Griffin at the center spot. Zaza or an additional shooter will earn a starting spot and due to the small Kings’ line-up, I would predict Detroit’s starting five as Jackson, Brown, Bullock, Kennard, Griffin and Sacramento’s as Fox, Hield, Bogdanovic, Bjelica, Cauley-Stein.I’m going to predict a 121-114 Kings victory tonight, and if Drummond doesn’t play, expect a big night from Blake Griffin.