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Previewing the Sacramento Kings

The Mavericks look to bounce back from Sunday's loss to the Heat. Sacramento, though, is off to a strong start to the season and will be a stiff test for Dallas.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

What did the Kings do over the summer?

The biggest move the Kings made over the summer was to not resign point guard Isaiah Thomas. Both parties were not on great terms towards the end of last season and their parting was seen as mutually beneficial. To replace Thomas, the Kings signed Darren Collison. They also brought in Ramon Sessions to be the backup point guard.

What has Sacramento done lately?

The Kings have opened the season with a 5-2 record with their only losses coming on opening night to the Golden State Warriors and again on Sunday to the short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder. They've notched wins against the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and beat the Denver Nuggets twice.

While the Kings aren't a good 3-point shooting team, it hasn't mattered. They take the most free throws of any team and are the best defensive rebounding team in the league. A lot of these numbers can be attributed to the play of DeMarcus Cousins.

Which Kings player might be due for a big game?

It stands to reason that Cousins is likely going to have a big game. If Tyson Chandler gets in foul trouble, the Mavericks don't have anyone who can battle with Cousins down low. Sure, Greg Smith will give it a try but Cousins is just too big and too strong. It's times like these when one has to think the Mavs would've been better off keeping Bernard James on the roster rather than bringing in Charlie Villanueva.

Aside from Cousins, look for Collison and Rudy Gay to put up good numbers. These three players are the core of the Kings' offense. Gay has seemingly transformed his game since joining Sacramento becoming a more efficient and reliable scorer. Collison, meanwhile, has continued to be extremely effective since leaving Dallas two seasons ago. With the Mavs' perimeter defense resembling a colander, these two players could have an impressive evening.

What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Kings?

Dallas needs to get back to the balanced scoring it displayed in its wins. We know that Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler will do their part so the onus falls on Chandler Parsons, the guards, and the bench. Parsons has put up several statistically uninspiring performances this season and needs to find some level of consistency going forward. It's not time to panic, the season is still young, but Parsons' efforts are worthy of some concern.

Sacramento isn't a deep team. When their second unit is in the game, Dallas needs to capitalize. This will involve getting Brandan Wright and Devin Harris going.

The Mavs also must make a concerted effort to rebound better. Three guard lineups have dominated Rick Carlisle's rotations early on. This has made rebounding more difficult, with the size and length of the Kings; it might be wise to get away from the smaller lineups in an attempt to secure the basketball. There's no reason to give opponents more opportunities.

Another shot at history.

Nowitzki needs just 17 points to pass Hakeem Olajuwon for 9th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Dirk is averaging 20.6 points per game this season so it stands to reason that he will surpass another milestone against the Kings.