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Dallas Mavericks at Sacramento Kings preview: looking to get back on track

The Mavericks have to keep the fouls to a minimum if they hope to notch a win at Sleep Train Arena.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What has Sacramento done lately?

Since the Mavs last saw the Kings, Sacramento fired head coach Mike Malone. Malone coached the team to a somewhat respectable 16-21 record. Tyrone Corbin replaced Malone. Since he took the reins, the Kings have a 5-8 record.

That said, Sacramento has won three of their last five games, beating the likes of the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Cavaliers. Their wins against the Thunder and Cavaliers were decisive, outscoring the two teams by 21 and 19 points, respectively.

What are the Kings' biggest strength and weakness?

Well, the Kings aren't a particularly good team. That said, they can hurt you. They are a good rebounding team, grabbing 27.5 percent of available offensive rebounds and 75.6 percent of the defensive rebounds. Perhaps, though, their biggest strength is getting to the free throw line. The Kings are the best at getting to the line in the league. They get to the charity stripe on 29.3 percent of their field goal attempts. The Mavericks don't foul at a high rate this season but they'll have their hands full against the Kings.

As for weaknesses, the Kings can score but they aren't all that efficient at it. They are ranked 18th in 2-point field goal percentage and 19th in 3-point percentage. The team shoots under 45 percent from five to 19 feet. The only place the team has taken more shots is within five feet.

Their biggest weakness is defense, however. Sacramento allows 108.4 points per 100 possessions. Despite the sieve that it their defense, the Kings actually hold opponents to just 33 percent 3-point shooting, the fourth best mark in the league.

What's the biggest matchup to watch?

It's easy to say that Tyson Chandler and DeMarcus Cousins are the biggest matchup of the game. Yet, this game could be decided by the wings, Chandler Parsons and Rudy Gay. Gay is averaging 20.8 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting. He is also shooting his second best mark from beyond the arc at 37.6 percent. Parsons, the third leading scorer on the Mavs, is averaging 15.5 points on 44.8 percent shooting. He connects on 36.5 percent of his 3-pointers.

The onus will be for these two players to keep the other in check. If they can't it could swing the tide of the game.

Which team stat might determine the game?

Let's just admit now that the Mavericks will likely not out-rebound the Kings. Dallas just isn't a good rebounding team. Therefore, the two stats that will determine the game are free throw shooting and 3-point shooting.

As noted above, the Kings get to the line more than any other team. A lot of this has to do with Cousins, who attempts 8.5 free throws per game. Gay gets to the line 5.7 times a game and Darren Collison makes 4.8 trips to the charity stripe. Dallas has to keep from fouling during the game otherwise the pace will favor the Kings who might as well pitch a tent at the line and start a campfire.

3-point shooting is where the Mavs could pull away if they're hot. The Kings don't take many threes, nor do they make many. Dallas, conversely, takes a number of shots from behind the arc. It's a mainstay of their offense. Splash the nylon and win the game.