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SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 12: Bogdan Bogdanovic #8 and Buddy Hield #24 of the Sacramento Kings celebrate after a win against the Portland Trail Blazers at Golden 1 Center on November 12, 2019 in Sacramento, California.
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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 four 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 4.40 million cases as of July 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, daily testing and health guidelines, there is a strong confidence that this plan will work for the league restart.

Sacramento will be back in action on this Friday, 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–and obtain sole possession of the ninth-seed spot.

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 games in order to secure a possible tie-breaker in the scenario 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.

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, New Orleans played without the services of star rookie Zion Williamson.

August 7th vs Brooklyn

No Kyrie Irving. No Kevin Durant. No Spencer Dinwiddie. No DeAndre Jordan.

The Brooklyn Nets will be heading to Orlando without a lot of their core talent, something that the Kings will need to take advantage of in August.

Back on November 22nd, the Nets defeated Sacramento 116-97 in Brooklyn.

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 paced the Rockets offense, leading Houston to a 40-24 record in 2019-20.

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.

In order for the game to have meaning, Sacramento will need to take care of business over the first six games.

August 13th vs Los Angeles Lakers

Originally, the Kings were lined up to play each of the first seven teams on their schedule–with one change: 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 seeded 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 following shortly after the conclusion of the regular season, expect Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis to rest, giving the Kings a strong chance to win the final game of the season.

Los Angeles is currently 5.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the first-seed spot in the Western Conference.

If the Lakers defeat the Clippers in the restart opener on Thursday, the 6.5 game lead with seven games remaining will almost guarantee that Los Angeles could rest their big guns during the season finale.

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.

The playoff push is on.