The 23-40 Sacramento Kings are STILL in the NBA playoff ‘play-in’ hunt! The Kings kept their play-in tournament hopes alive with a much-needed 131-110 win on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
The Kings are currently 13th in the NBA’s western conference, 3 games back of the 10th place New Orleans Pelicans and the FINAL western conference play-in tournament spot. In their pursuit of the 10th seed, Sacramento also needs to ‘leap-frog’ the 11th place (25-36) Portland Trail Blazers and 12th place (24-38) San Antonio Spurs.
Controlling Our Destiny
The Kings can do a lot to ‘control their play-in tournament destiny’ over the next two games. They go into a HUGE back-to-back, both on the road, Wednesday 3/2 against the 10th place Pelicans, and Thursday 3/3 against the 12th place Spurs. This two-game stretch has the potential to clear a lot of things up for the Kings play-in tournament situation.
Going 2-0 can give the Kings a legitimate shot at fighting for the final play-in spot in the west. If they go 0-2, it may put the Kings far enough back to all but end their play-in hopes. A 1-1 stretch would be very Kings-y! Regardless, I am EXCITED about some ‘meaningful’ hoops! The Kings are 4-8 this season on games with 0 days rest, AKA the SEGABABA (second game of a back to back).
Matchup Stats and Opinions
The Kings are 2-0 this season versus the Pelicans. A couple of stats that stuck out to me were, the Kings are averaging 110.2 points per game versus all opponents this season, and 112.5 PPG against the Pelicans. Against all opponents this season the Kings are shooting 76% from the free-throw line, in their two games against the Pelicans, the Kings are shooting 89.4% from the charity stripe!
The Pelicans rank 29th in the NBA in 3PT shots made, the Kings rank 17th in the NBA defensively in 3PT makes allowed. New Orleans ranks 4th in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game, Sacramento ranks 19th in the NBA in ORB allowed per game. To give themselves the best chance at the win, the Kings will need to not allow too many second-chance opportunities, and make sure the Pels don’t catch fire from 3 point range! The Pelicans are coming off of two big wins on the road against the Phoneix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
Both squads acquired impact players at the 2/10 trade deadline. The Pelicans traded for former Trail Blazer CJ McCollum, one of the top scorers in the NBA. McCollum has caught fire since arriving in New Orleans. In 7 games with the Pelicans, he is averaging 28 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game.
Thursday 3/3 in San Antonio
Sacramento is 1-1 against the San Antonio Spurs this season, heading into their 3rd and final matchup of the regular season. Sacramento is shooting better against the Spurs compared to their season average. Against all opponents this season, the Kings are averaging 45% FG and 51% FG against the Spurs.
In all of the NBA, the Spurs rank 7th in points, 1st in FG made, and 1st in assists! Sacramento’s per-game ranks are 28th in points allowed, 19th in assists allowed, and 29th in opponent FG%. This post-trade deadline version of the Kings squad will have to step up their usual defensive output to hold the Spurs and first-time NBA All-Star Dejounte Murray close. The 25 year old Murray is averaging an IMPRESSIVE 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game this season.
The Sacramento Kings started the season 6-6 on the road, surprisingly positive. Since December 1st, the Sacramento Kings are a disappointing 2-16 on the road. On the season, the Kings are 8-22 in away games. If the Kings have any chance at making the play-in tournament, they will need to improve on the road, especially with 11 of their final 19 games away from home.
Odds Are …
The Kings are 6 point underdogs against the Pelicans tonight. The ‘lines’ haven’t been released for the Thursday 3/3 game at San Antonio yet.
I gave my predictions for the Kings final 22 games during the NBA All-Star break. Originally I predicted the Kings to split this back-to-back, with a win against the Pelicans and a loss against the Spurs … I am STICKING with my original prediction.
I think the Kings will get a big WIN against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight. Sacramento has had a tough time getting wins on the second night of a back-to-back, especially on the road. I predict they will lose against the Spurs on Thursday. First things first though, let’s get this big WIN in New Orleans!
What Do YOU Think
I want to know what the #SacramentoProud fans think!
If you want to share your opinion, stats, homemade tacos you concocted for the game … let me know on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!
As always, GO SACRAMENTO KINGS!