Learn how Kings forwards have prepared to face Indiana’s All-Star frontline. Plus, Smart and Co. reveal takeaways from the team’s previous matchup against the Pacers.
– While Chuck Hayes typically focuses on taking away opponents’ space by crowding them and utilizing his low center of gravity and quick footwork, No. 42 has a different game plan against Pacers center Roy Hibbert.
“I want to invite him to put the ball on the ground,” said Hayes. “By him being 7-foot-2 and me being 6-foot-6, when the ball is on the ground, it’s in my area. When the ball is up in the air, obviously the advantage is to him. Once he puts the ball on the ground, my job is to attack the dribble.”
In order to limit the Indiana All-Star’s shot-blocking prowess, Head Coach Keith Smart expects the Kings to run more pick-and-rolls and kick the ball out on second-chance opportunities.
“I think he’s becoming a smart defensive player, where he’s not overreacting to anything that comes to the basket that is baiting him to get a foul,” said the Kings leader of Hibbert. “Some of his blocks that he had (on Nov. 2) were just us rebounding in traffic and trying to go back up against his length.”
Jason Thompson, who’s emphasized moving his feet on defense along with thorough film study to learn his opponents’ tendencies, adds it’s essential to get Hibbert and David West out of their comfort zones.
“They’re going to be dominant offensive guys,” said No. 34. “You have to keep them off the boards and as much as they’re coming at us, you have to bring it to them, too, put pressure on them and make it tough for them on defense.”
– After looking at game film, Smart noted several positive takeaways from the pair’s previous meeting, revealing the Kings would make adjustments based on prior miscues.
“We had opportunities – we got the game into two overtimes and (if we’d gotten) a great defensive stop, we get the ball back and we have an opportunity to make a lay-up and win that game on the road,” said Smart.
“The guys did a great job of going through the ebbs and flows of a basketball game, (and) still managed to make some big plays down the stretch.”
Thompson believes the team has since matured and learned to slow down the offense rather than force shots, while Hayes adds Sacramento has improved its efficiency in late-game situations.
“I think that was the first game where we had a chance to win the game, but lack of execution really did play a part,” he said. “(Being able to) finish the game with execution, that’s been our Achilles heel all season so far, but it’s still early and we’ve gotten better.”
– After focusing on defense in Wednesday’s practice, Smart said Thursday’s practice was primarily offensive-oriented, in which players worked on spacing, pick-and-rolls and recognizing how to react to various defensive sets.
– See Thompson and the Kings take on West and the Pacers Friday at 7 p.m. To get tix, Click Here.