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Saturday April 22, 2006 12:32 am

2005-2006 NBA Playoffs – Sacramento Kings (44-38) @ San Antonio Spurs (63-19), Game One

Posted by Dennis Velasco Categories: Editorial, NBA, Playoffs,

Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs driving to the hoopWhat the Kings Need to Do to Win: The Kings need to establish themselves early in the game and maintain the pace that they want to play and never allow the Spurs to get into their game and control the tempo.  The interior defense of Kenny Thomas, Brad Milller, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim will need to bear down on Tim Duncan and Nazr Mohammed.  Mike Bibby and Bonzi Wells will need to wear out Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili by making them defend hard and not have as much energy on the offensive side.  And, of course, the biggest difference-maker for the Kings, Ron Artest will need to step up his game and dominate the way he can – whether it’s through his on-ball defense, post-up offense, or the perimeter, Artest will need to control this game, especially down the stretch in order for the Kings to pull an upset in San Antonio.

What the Spurs Need to Do to Win: Even though the Kings are the eighth seed, they really came on after Artest came over from the Pacers.  However, they’ll need to get going from the jump ball and not give the upstart Kings any hope of winning the game because the Kings new tenacity on defense and the bullishness of Artest can and has really brought them a long way.  Parker and Ginobili will need to penetrate into the paint and either take it to the rack or pass it off, converting for the score and keep the Sacramento guards off-balance and not get set into their offense.  It seems as if Duncan was sleeping all year; he’ll need to wake up and begin to dominate the way he used to.  Bruce Bowen and Brent Barry will have to keep the Spurs in the game when the stars get some blow.  If Mohammed can be a presence, all the better for Duncan to establish his game.

My Prediction: Kings 87, Spurs 84; I believe the Kings will pull an upset win, thanks to a late-game steal by Francisco Garcia that the Spurs never recover from.

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