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Breaking Down The Sacramento Kings Schedule

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

With eight games to go, Sacramento has little to no room for error

When the NBA season came to a screeching halt, the Sacramento Kings were just beginning to hit stride.

After falling to a season-worst 14 games under .500 on January 22nd, the Kings went on a run, winning six of 10 games heading into the All-Star break in February.

Once play resumed after the break, Sacramento started playing its best basketball of the season–winning seven of 10 games to improve their record to 28-36, placing themselves within 3.5 games of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

It has been over three months since the Kings were readying themselves to face the New Orleans Pelicans back on March 11th.

COVID-19 has ravaged the country, with the United States having reported 2.59 million cases as of June 29th. Sports have taken a backseat to what is most important: the livelihoods of those who are at risk of contracting this previously unknown disease.

The NBA has put a plan into place that could be the best chance at successfully finishing the 2019-20 season, with 22 teams traveling to Orlando, Florida to play out the remainder of the season at the ‘bubble’ sit of the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

With strict health guidelines and a bevy of safety precautions and testing, there is optimism that this plan could work.

If all goes well, Sacramento will be back in action on July 31st when they face the San Antonio Spurs. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the Kings in their quest to snap a 14-year playoff drought.

The Standings

In order to qualify for the postseason, the Sacramento Kings must finish within four games of the eighth-seed spot in the Western Conference.

ESPN.com

Currently, Sacramento is 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies in the chase for eighth.

In order to qualify for a play-in scenario, the Kings must be within four games of Memphis–in sole possession of the ninth-seed. For that to happen, the Kings must outplay the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns.

Sacramento will play New Orleans twice over the final eight games.

They must win both in order to secure a possible tie-breaker in the situation that both teams tie for the ninth-seed spot. Sacramento already lost to New Orleans earlier this season, so one win by the Pelicans will award them the tie-breaker.

When it comes down to it, the key point is that the Kings control their own destiny.

Winning will solve all ‘what-if’ scenarios for Sacramento.

The Schedule

July 31st vs San Antonio

The schedule will open up against DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs.

Sacramento will largely benefit from the fact that Spurs forward and seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury.

The Spurs are currently trailing the Kings in the standings by one-half game in the standings.

In two meetings this season, Sacramento has fared well against San Antonio.

Back on December 6th, the Kings squandered a nine-point lead with under two-minutes remaining, giving the Spurs a chance to send the game to overtime. San Antonio would go on to win 105-104 in arguably the ugliest loss of the season for the Kings.

Aldridge was a force in the Spurs win, scoring 19 points to go along with 13 rebounds.

On February 8th, Sacramento easily routed the Spurs 122-102 at Golden 1 Center.

August 2nd vs Orlando

Previously this season, Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic broke the hearts of Kings fans in a game that went down to the very last second.

On January 13th, Sacramento took a 112-111 lead with 15 seconds remaining after an and-one conversion by De’Aaron Fox. The Kings needed one stop to give themselves their 16th win of the season.

Instead, Aaron Gordon took the air out of the building with an and-one of his own to give Orlando the 114-112 win:

Magic center Nikola Vucevic’s 26 points and 15 rebounds paced Orlando in their win, as Sacramento had no answer for the All-Star.

With Richaun Holmes healthy and the addition of Alex Len bolstering the front court, expect the Kings to do a better job of holding Vucevic in check during the NBA restart.

August 4th vs Dallas

The Kings are 1-2 against the Dallas Mavericks this season:

  • December 8th: Kings 110, Mavericks 106
  • January 15th: Mavericks 127, Kings 123
  • February 12th: Mavericks 130, Kings 111

Back on December 8th, Cory Joseph blocked a Luka Doncic jumper that would have tied the game, giving the Kings the narrow win.

Doncic and the Mavericks would win the next two contests, including a blowout in February that saw the All-Star guard score 33 points and grab 12 rebounds.

With Marvin Bagley III reportedly healthy, expect the second-year forward to play with a chip on his shoulder when facing fellow 2018-draftee Doncic.

August 6th vs New Orleans

As mentioned earlier, the Kings most meaningful games during this eight-game span will be against the New Orleans Pelicans.

In their only meeting this season, both teams participated in a game that was one of the wildest of the NBA season.

On January 4th, the Pelicans took a 115-111 lead with five seconds remaining.

Nemanja Bjelica did the near impossible, drilling a three-pointer while getting fouled to initiate a four-point play opportunity, one that the forward would complete to tie things up at 115-115 with four seconds.

Former Duke Blue Devil great J.J. Reddick took an inbound pass and drove to the basket, floating a scoop-shot in for the winning basket as the Pelicans would hold on for a 117-115 win.

In that contest, Sacramento was without Marvin Bagley III and New Orleans was without rookie star Zion Williamson.

August 7th vs Brooklyn

No Kyrie Irving. No Kevin Durant.

The Brooklyn Nets will be heading to Orlando without their two stars, something that the Kings will need to take advantage of in August.

Although their stars won’t be playing this summer, the Nets didn’t need Irving or Durant back on November 22nd when they defeated Sacramento 116-97.

The Kings were missing De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III and Bogdan Bogdanovic in the loss.

August 9th vs Houston

On the surface, the fact that Sacramento has to face Houston should appear daunting.

Former MVP’s James Harden and Russel Westbrook have lead the Rockets to a strong season, sitting at 40-24 once play resumes in Orlando.

One of those 24 losses came from a loss against Sacramento on December 9th, a game that Nemaja Bjelica sent Rockets fans home in shambles.

The Rockets would beat Sacramento in their second meeting on December 23rd, a 113-104 win at Golden 1 Center.

August 11th vs New Orleans

In what could be a make-or-break game, the Kings will face the Pelicans on August 11th in a game that will be nationally televised by TNT.

August 13th vs Los Angeles Lakers

Originally, the Kings were lined up to play each team on their schedule–except for one: the last game of the season against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sacramento was supposed to have a game against the Indiana Pacers, but the league opted to have the Kings face the number-one seed Lakers instead.

While this might appear as a disadvantage for the Kings, keep in mind that it will be the last game of the season for Los Angeles as well.

With the playoffs shortly after, expect Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis to rest, giving the Kings a strong chance to win the final game of the season.

Sacramento is 0-2 against the Lakers this season, including a 16-point loss in February and a narrow defeat in November that saw the Kings lose 99-97.

The NBA’s Two Minute Report stated that an incorrect foul was called on Harrison Barnes, a play that resulted in free-throws for LeBron James to give the Lakers a 99-97 lead–and eventual final score.

You never know how an NBA schedule can unfold, but if it comes down to one final game, the Kings might have lucked out getting a resting Lakers team instead of a hungry Indiana Pacers squad that could be battling for playoff positioning.

Eight games. Infinite possibilities.

Let’s go.