Kings vs. Bulls Preview – By the Numbers

After an exciting loss the Kings head to Chicago to try and get back in the win column against the Bulls. Chicago is in the middle of a fight to get into the Play-In and shouldn’t be taken lightly, so let’s see what the Kings can do to get their momentum back tonight.

Much like the Bucks, the Bulls rely more on their defense than their offense. They come into the game with the 5th best defense in the league and the 24th ranked offense, so it should be another good test for the best offense in the league. The Bulls have a very balanced defense, in the fact that they do pretty much everything well, but don’t have the same type of fear that the Bucks bestowed.

They hold opponents to 46.7% shooting from the field (22nd), 35.5% from 3 (20th), and (55.0%) on 2PA’s (14th). Where they really excel on the 2-point Field Goal defense is in the floater area. They hold opponents to 41.5%, 5th lowest in the league. This is the spot that Fox has worked so well this year, shooting a career high 51.5% on 6.1 attempts per game. As a team, the Kings shoot 48.2% from the area, 2nd highest in the league. It may not seem like much, but I’ll be watching that spot tonight to see which way the stat swings.

For the Bulls on offense, they are led by DeMar DeRozan’s 25.0 Points per game and Zach LaVine’s 24.9, but after that there is a drop-off to 17.7 for Nikola Vučević and then 10.2 for Patrick Williams. They shoot more Mid-Range shots than any other team in the league with 18.2 per game, thanks to DeRozan once again leading the league with 9.3 attempts per game. LaVine is also 18th in the NBA with 3.7 attempts per contest. The Kings do a decent job limiting opponents on these attempts, holding them to 41.6%, 18th in the league, but they’ll have to be ready for the middie attack tonight to try and shut down the Bulls favored shots.

For the Kings, Domantas Sabonis is coming off his 10th triple-double of the season, and became just the 15th player in NBA history to put up a stat line of at least 20, 15, and 15 with his 23 Points, 17 Rebounds, and 15 Assists. The Kings have so many story lines that Sabonis’ amazing year sometimes gets overshadowed, but it’s just a reminder that he can put up a monster performance on any given night.

Another huge stat that he had on Monday that didn’t show up in the main box score was his Screen Assists. Against the Bucks, he had 9 Screen Assists for 25 Screen Assist Points. For reference, he leads the league with 5.7 and 13.7 per game, respectfully. It feels like the majority of those came from Kevin Huerter’s hot shooting from 3, as the two of them danced around the perimeter together creating the open looks from deep.

When the two of them get going they become almost unstoppable. On the season, Huerter is shooting 46.2% on his 3-point attempts that come off of Sabonis passes, as compared to his 40.7% as a whole on the year. Sabonis has the unique ability to get Huerter open looks even when defenses are putting all of their effort to slow Kevin down from beyond the arc. The two had what looked like an immediate connection at the beginning of the year, but their capabilities as a duo were on full display last game.

Someone else I’ll be keeping an eye on is Keegan Murray, who is in a bit of a slump. In his last 5 games, he’s averaging 6.2 Points, 2.8 Rebounds, and 1.4 Assists on 34.4% shooting from the field, 22.7 from 3, and 80% from the line. It seems like every time Kings fans start looking at Keegan and talk about him slumping, he breaks out of it with a 6-of-8 night from 3. Let’s hope that trend continues tonight!

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