This should be a good one, folks. The Toronto Raptors head to Sacramento to face Rudy Gay and the Kings for the first time since a blockbuster trade that has changed the face of the 2013-14 season.
Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, and Chuck Hayes make their returns to Sacramento (16-32), while Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy, and my boy Aaron ‘Air’ Gray face their former team (26-22) for the first time. You can catch the must-watch at 10PM tonight on Sportsnet – kids, stay up past your bedtime for this one.
Since the trade, the Raps are 19-10 while the Kings are a not-so impressive 11-19. With that being said, Gay has had success in Sacramento, averaging career bests of 20.7 points on 53.0 percent shooting. Acy and Gray are both rotational players in Sac-town, something neither of them were able to achieve in Toronto, while Patterson, Vasquez, Salmons and Hayes have all found their niches in Toronto. Overall, it seems to have been a great trade for both sides.
Here are some tidbits from Gay, who nobody should be holding sour feelings against.
Gay says no regrets from his time in Toronto but felt that group, given more time, could have done something special.
— Mike Ganter (@Mike_Ganter) February 5, 2014
Interview with Marc Stein:
Q: How hard has it been to watch Toronto kind of take off without you?
A: It’s not [hard]. I love those guys. DeMar [DeRozan] just texted me five minutes ago … literally. We’ll always be brothers. That’s my little brother. I love to see him have this success [and make the East All-Star squad]. He’s been in the doghouse of the NBA for a long time. I think now he’s getting his just due.
Q: What exactly does “back to being me” mean?
A: Just being free. Just going out there and making plays for myself and others. Coach [Mike Malone] is putting me in different situations. He’s trusting me with the ball, trusting me to make plays for others, and also the guys around me are trusting me to do that for them.
The Raps have won twice in Sacramento, while losing 14 times. This is not going to be an easy one by any means.
Let’s get to the Cage’s Keys to the Game
Contain The Animal Inside
DeMarcus Cousins is an absolute monster and undoubtedly a top 3 center in the league. If his head was straight, he would be the best big man in the game. The man is an absolute freak, and has averaged 25.7 points, 17.3 rebounds and 59.6 percent from the field in his last three against Toronto. Jonas Valanciunas is going to have his hands full tonight.
You know Rudy is going to be out for blood tonight. No matter what people say – playing against your former team is always tough. The Raps are going to have to put the emotions aside, and play their game. Rudy is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder – DeMar DeRozan will have to match that.
Cousins, Gay, and Jason Thompson are all very solid rebounders. In the past, the Raps have gotten slaughtered on the glass in contests against the Kings – that simply can’t happen tonight.
X-Factor- Terrence Ross
Happy 23rd birthday to Mr. Ross. He’s going to likely have the assignment of guarding Rudy tonight. If Gay is hitting his mid-range shots, he’s a very tough cover – particularly for the smaller Ross. However, Ross is quick enough to limit penetration. With that being said, he’s also too weak to guard Gay if he decides to start working the post. This will be an extremely tough match-up for the birthday boy.