Kings at Grizzlies Preview – By the Numbers

The Kings head to Memphis to start a three-game road-trip and extend their winning streak to 7 games. Sacramento will catch a break as the Grizzlies are without Desmond Bane and Ja Morant is currently listed as doubtful.

The Kings are winning with an elite offense, a word I don’t use lightly, and kicking into a defensive gear when they need it down the stretch, but still have a Defensive Rating of 114.9, 27th in the league. The fact that the Kings have won 6 games in a row and 9 of their last 11 while still showing some defensive struggles to me is a good thing. It shows that they have a clear avenue to keep getting better.

Over the 6-game winning streak, the Kings are winning the 4th quarter by an average of 4.7 Points. The Pelicans currently lead the league in 4th quarter Point Differential at +4.1. If the Kings can build on that closing ability and start improving defensively throughout the year, we can start to have serious talks about a top 6 seed playoff berth.

The Grizzlies come into the game averaging 114.4 Points per game, 10th most in the NBA. Where they really do their damage is on the Offensive Boards. They average 13.7 Offensive Rebounds and 17.6 2nd Chance Points per game, both of which lead the league. A huge part of that is the big man inside, Steven Adams. No one gets more offensive boards than him, at 4.8 per game. What’s interesting is that it’s actually Desmond Bane who benefits from Adams rebounds the most. Bane is 2nd in the NBA with 4.3 2nd Chance Points per game, but only gets 0.5 Offensive Rebounds per game. Hopefully with Bane out though, the Kings can catch a break on the 2nd Chance Points.

The Kings meanwhile, have continued to do an excellent job of limiting 2nd chance opportunities, holding opponents to 8.4 Offensive boards per contest, the least in the NBA. It will be yet another swing stat that I will keep an eye on with its ability to shift the game.

Like the Warriors games, it’s getting to the fun part of the season, at least for me, where we can look at past games against opponents. Last time the Kings and Grizzlies played each other, the Kings shot 31.6% from deep, their 2nd worst 3-point shooting game of the year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that was their biggest loss of 15. During the win streak, the Kings have shot 40.8% from 3, but what’s great is their ability to win when they aren’t making them too. For two of those games, the Pistons and Lakers games, they shot 34.3% and 33.3% respectively. In those same two games, they scored 62 and 60 Points in the Paint. They’ve been finding different ways to score when shots aren’t falling, which they weren’t able to do consistently last year.

The offense has been so efficient, they seem to take what the defense gives them, and rely on what is going well for them in the game. They don’t force shots. They haven’t shot a Very Tight covered 3-Point shot all season, and have only shot 35 with Tight coverage. 534 of their threes, or 93.8%, of them, have been with Open or Wide-Open coverage. Conversely, their Opponents are only shooting 79.1% of their threes with Open or Wide-Open coverage. The Kings are consistently getting better looks than their opponents, which forces the opposing team to have a near perfect game on the offensive end.

The Pistons lost on Sunday while shooting 51.7% from deep. It took them shooting upwards of 60% for most of the game to stay close with the Kings. With the type of coverage the Kings are averaging on contested threes, not a lot of teams are likely to have near perfect offensive games against them. It is seriously starting to feel like the Kings have a chance to win every game.

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today