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Kings vs Mavericks Preview: Flat Worth Theories

Can the Dallas Mavericks force Domantas Sabonis to go right and save their waning hopes for a play-in berth??
By | 34 Comments | Apr 5, 2023

The Sacramento Kings have claimed their first PACIFIC DIVISION TITLE in 20 years but will have no time to celebrate today – they’ve got an old fashioned country western shootout to get ready for. Yes, the Kings are in Dallas, with a chance to dash the Mavericks hopes of a play-in berth just a bit harder against the rocks. With just a half game of separation between the bed Mark Cuban has made and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavericks absolutely need the Kings to cough up a loss and save a disappointing season from slipping into a total disaster. Can the Kings get themselves within a game of fifty wins? Will Keegan Murray get hot again tonight and decide to go for 300 three pointers to cap off his rookie year? Does Mike Brown have in his possession the Warriors play that forces all five Maverick opponents to line up on the wrong end of the floor?

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: Wednesday, April 5th, 5:30 PM PT
Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140

For Your Consideration

Stop Kidd-ing Around: This Mavericks squad is a bit of a shit show. They’ve lost seven of their last eight games, they’ve got Luka on the mic seemingly every night discussing the way he used to enjoy basketball and how much he missed certain ex-Mavericks like he’s Dirk in a ten-year retrospective of his career, they’ve got Kyrie on the edge of challenging fans to take his spot in the rotation if they can – it’s dark times in Dallas at the moment. On February 5th the Mavs were two games above .500, 6th place in the West. They’re 5 games under and sitting at 11th with zero momentum headed into these final few games. The Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that people were ready to retract at the beginning of the season for damaging the league with their blatant and egregious methods of team building, sit a half game above them for the final play-in spot.

A quick aside here: Tony asked this question the other day on the pod and it’s been stuck in my craw ever since – would you trade this Mavericks team for this Kings team moving forward? Yes, they’re a mess but a true megastar of Luka’s abilities is hard to come by in these parts. And my answer to that question belies where I feel like the problem really is for the Mavericks – if it was just the players, I’d think about it, if it was the management and coaching staff, it would be a hard pass. Because, despite the drama, despite Kyrie being a controversial figure (to put it mildly) and Luka annoying a decent number of fans with his in game antics… I truly don’t think they’re the problem. Those two should be able to lead a decent squad to a Top-6 finish out west. But you look at the surrounding pieces, you look at the schemes of this Mavericks squad and in my mind, it’s pretty easy to see that Nico Harrison and Jason Kidd are the grindstone around the necks of this squad. Refusing to re-sign a should-have-been All-Star in Jalen Brunson, swapping for Christian Wood only to bring him off the bench, sending the best defender on a bad defensive team away to fix the mistake of the Brunson decision. Hell, just bringing Jason Kidd in for an interview should be a fireable offense at this point, but then hiring him when your franchise has been absolutely wracked with 20 years of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct issues finally coming into the light… the Mavericks are rotting from the top down, in my opinion.

Okay off the high horse for a second here – Luka and Kyrie are both probable to play tonight after some discussion on whether or not they were going to shut the duo down for the season and try to save their pick. They should be playing. As nice as it would be to say that this dramatic ass team looks doomed from the start, the Kings just lost to the Spurs this weekend and I’m still not over it so… consider this the last stand for the Mavs. They’re going basketballs to the walls, they’re fake bumping into coaches so they can spill drinks and gain extra timeouts, they’re throwing out conspiracies about David Stern not being dead and him paying the refs to give the ball to the wrong team – Anything and everything to get to a play-in game.

Except paying Jalen Brunson.

Prediction

A cellphone lights up and silent buzzes on the duvet of an Alaskan King sized bed. A shower head drains its water from the vaulted ceiling above and a very large man stands underneath it, badly humming along to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. The phone goes dark. The man steps out of the shower, slips into his robe. The phone lights up again but the custom goose down drowns out any noise. It goes dark again. The man reaches into a white oak cabinet for a Reinast titanium toothbrush while standing at the marble sink – the day’s cigar smoke still lingers on his breath. The phone goes dark again. He continues to hum. A text comes through the phone. He turns out the bathroom light. He walks to the bed, grabbing his phone, placing it on the wireless charger on the nightstand next to him without even looking at it. The man slides into his silk sheets, then into a dreamless sleep.

In a parking lot in Dallas, Texas, Luka Doncic sits with a sweating medium coke and fries that grow colder by the second. He opens his phone for the fourth time in ten minutes. He’s waiting for a reply. Tired of waiting, he goes to his texts, finds the unsend button on a paragraph he’d spent four years trying to write and waited just thirty seconds for a response, then sends a new text.

“Sorry, butt dial. Hope everything is well, Vlade!”

Kings: 126, Mavericks: 117

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Jman1949
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April 5, 2023 12:32 pm

The Mavericks are not where they thought
They’d be with the things Kyrie brought.
They fight for the play-in
While looks like we’ll stay in
The championship race as we’ve sought!

andy_sims
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April 5, 2023 12:42 pm

I called Vegas to put some money on your prediction, but they claimed that they didn’t understand it, that I was an “idiot,” told me to fuck off, and hung up on me.

RobHessing
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April 5, 2023 12:43 pm

My blind arse guess is that had you swapped Kidd for Mike Brown over the summer, the Mavs would be sitting near the 3 spot right now and the Kings would be last gasping it for the play-in. What ails the Mavs ailed the Kings organization for better than a decade. What a difference a little synergy and accountability makes.

RikSmits
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April 5, 2023 1:12 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I am no fan of Kidd. But strangely enough, last season Kidd was lauded for having the Mavs play above average defense, and they managed to hurt some teams in the playoffs.

I also remember several coaches getting the COTY and then fired within two seasons.

The NBA is a strange beast.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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April 5, 2023 1:17 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Yeah, but who’s better at getting free timeouts without calling a timeout?
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oshima9
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April 5, 2023 3:51 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I’m not sure I believe this. The Kings have a roster with complimentary pieces that fit pretty well, and, after Fox and Sabonis, you have Murray, while in Dallas you have . . . . ?

RobHessing
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April 5, 2023 3:59 pm
Reply to  oshima9

And Sabonis and Fox are playing the best basketball of their lives under Brown. Again, blind arse, but my guess is that Brown would have had similar success pulling the best game out of Doncic, perhaps to the point where they would not have had to make the desperation play for Iriving.

Bottom line, I hold Mike Brown in very high regard. I have none for Jason Kidd. And it is my belief that the ability of both coaches are evidenced in the standings.

oshima9
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April 5, 2023 4:12 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I see Kidd as an average, run of the mill coach, not bad, not great.

Brown is first rate, of course, he’s among the best in the league, but you can’t separate what he has done with Fox and Sabonis with what each player can do. He brings out the best of what is already there. With Doncic, you get a mixed bag of greatness and inflexibility, which, to me, places a ceiling on what Brown could accomplish with him. But you might be right, he might have gotten enough out of Doncic to avoid the Irving trade.

andy_sims
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April 5, 2023 5:18 pm
Reply to  oshima9

Regardless, Kidd is garbage off the court. It says a great deal about what the NBA claims to be important that this average-at-best coach keeps getting jobs.

I mean, how hard do you have to hit the mother of your children before you become persona non grata?

(The answer is that you’d need to kill her, and he’d probably still get job offers once paroled.)

1951
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April 5, 2023 1:03 pm

Kings are on the road?

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Want2win
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April 5, 2023 1:23 pm

Just want to vent about the lack of love Keegan gets in Rookie Rankings.. he has much lower lower usage than Paola, Mathurin, Ivey, Jalen Williams and Smith is kind of close but still almost 3% higher. So Keegan could be scoring 18-20 if he was the number 1-2 options. Keegan has better Net ratings then all the top rookies except Kessler, his eFg is better than the other top scorers..

it frustrates me that they don’t look at impact of the player and see to only focus on scoring

RobHessing
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April 5, 2023 1:33 pm
Reply to  Want2win

He will lead all of them in playoff scoring. Not sure much matters beyond that.

De’Aaron Fox did not make the all-rookie team (not even 2nd team). Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith, Jr. did.

Marvin Bagley was a 1st team all-rookie selection.

My guess is that Murray sneaks into the top five when it is all said and done, probably nudging out Mathurin. Again guessing, he joins Banchero (runaway ROY), Williams, Ivey and Kessler.

Want2win
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April 5, 2023 2:16 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Great point..

Marty
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April 5, 2023 1:48 pm
Reply to  Want2win

(((checks notes)))

Yep made-up rankings on some website still don’t matter.

andy_sims
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April 5, 2023 1:48 pm
Reply to  Want2win

Using the metrics included here, which, to my eye, contain the more important/typical statistical categories, things look rather different from the endless hype:

Screenshot 2023-04-05 134721.jpg
Want2win
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April 5, 2023 2:15 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I do like that site more than the NBA’s Rookie ladder because it give a snapshot ..

NorCalKingsFan
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April 5, 2023 5:40 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

It actually makes sense here, Jalen Williams and Keegan Murray are the only two rookies starting on teams likely to make the play-offs/play-ins. They are both very solid all-around players but they’re far from the top offensive option on their respective teams (JW is the 3rd option and Murray is 4th at best, most nights he’s the 5th option) and yet they still produce at a high level. Kessler’s advanced stats show his impact on defense and rebounding and he’s extremely efficient around the rim.

They are all doing it differently, but they’re each very efficient players within their roles, especially for rookies and IMO are the only three rookies who’ve objectively improved their teams.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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April 5, 2023 7:00 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

To me, bred of a Kings historical bias – this seasons’ Kings are the 2023 version of Petrie/Adelman (McNair/Brown)

And that’s the key.

Oh, and ownership sits in the corner and STFU

eddie41
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April 5, 2023 1:46 pm

Will, you should write a basketball comedy screenplay … or pilot for a series … although you might have to compromise with a happier ending than you would like.

andy_sims
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April 5, 2023 5:20 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Make sure that Will has a scene where an athlete is filming a TV ad, and at the end, throws the ball at the camera. And give me credit, because I’m the first one to think of it.

MichaelMack
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April 5, 2023 2:08 pm

Superb work Will.

ukca375
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April 5, 2023 2:45 pm

I actually posed the Patreon question question about swapping teams with Dallas -I enjoyed all theirs thoughts but I thought the point made by one of the panel that his answer it depends on if Sabonis resigns was very telling. Personally I wouldn’t swap because although he’s a superstar talent I couldn’t support a team with Donics whining, complaining cry baby attitude. That’s coming from someone who’s supported 20 years of shit kings teams, watching games at 0300 start most nights and no fans to share the experience except through this website. It’s a hard pass I’d rather have Benchblob back …

ukca375
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April 5, 2023 2:55 pm
Reply to  ukca375

Ps but this year has been worth every bit of it. Light the mother ####ing beam …

BuffaloDiaspora
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April 5, 2023 2:57 pm

Irving and Doncic are listed as probable for tonight, so Dallas hasn’t decided to tank (yet).

Only Delly is listed for the Kings which is… interesting. I’m not necessarily advocating going into full rest mode quite yet, but if anyone is even a little bit banged up I would have expected them on tonight’s injury report. Maybe Brown is just planning on limiting minutes?

Kingsguru21
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April 5, 2023 2:57 pm

I’m not playing Fox, Sabonis or Monk. 50 W’s is a nice goal on paper, but you lose alot more if you lose any of these guys to a serious injury. Last night, I get. You need to lock up the 3 seed. But tonight? No. Not for a mostly toothless 50 W season.

Having said that, I expect them to play. I just don’t agree with it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kingsguru21
BuffaloDiaspora
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April 5, 2023 3:06 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

10 days of rest is a little excessive. I’d expect the main rotation to mostly be playing tonight (though I am shocked nobody is listed on the injury report), partially be playing Friday and ordering concessions from the bench on Sunday unless the 2 seed is up for grabs.

Kingsguru21
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April 5, 2023 3:37 pm

They’ve also played the most minutes of any starting group. Play them in Friday’s game. That’s a part of it.

NorCalKingsFan
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April 5, 2023 5:52 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I’d play both of Fox & Domas in 2 of the 3 remaining games, maybe sit Domas one game and Fox in another. In addition, I wouldn’t require they play in the 2nd half of any games they do play. Just keep them in shape, in rhythm, and out of the games in the 4th quarter when teams start fouling hard. Maybe you rest a combination of Monk, Barnes, & Huerter during the last 3 game stretch.

The #2 seed doesn’t mean as much at this point, if I were MB I wouldn’t chance playing any core players too much in an effort to chase it when its not entirely in their control.

I don’t really care about any of the teams below the Kings except I would like LAL to have to play at least one play-in game just cuz their old and I think LeBron and AD would hate that they couldn’t hold get directly into the play-offs via the #6 seed.

oshima9
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April 5, 2023 4:02 pm

I wouldn’t switch the Kings roster for the Mavericks. Fox, Sabonis and Murray are 3 excellent complimentary players, not to mention Barnes, with more upside to come.

I’m not sure Dallas has anyone off the bench who can defend like Mitchell and Edwards, or score like Monk.

I think Brown would have some problems with the Mavericks, so I don’t think it is fair to blame Kidd.

There’s a big question here: Can a title contender be built around Doncic? Until this year, I would have said yes, but I am beginning to have doubts. His combination of no defense and ball dominance seems a poor fit for today’s NBA.

Which raises another question: did Vlade actually get it right by not drafting Doncic? I am loathe to admit it, it is so hard for me to accept, but isn’t it possible that the problem wasn’t passing on Doncic, but drafting Bagley instead, when he could have had Jalen Jackson, or even traded down to get players like Mikal Bridges or Michael Porter, Jr.?

It seems that the longer Doncic plays, the more problems the Mavericks have.

Anyway, it is great not to have to think to seriously about these things with the Kings playing so well.

cloudyeyes
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April 5, 2023 4:59 pm
Reply to  oshima9

The main issue of concern was Doncic is ball-dominant, which he actually is. Super high usage, puts up great numbers, but the team needs to be actually built around him for him to succeed. He either shoots a three or uses his size to back down smaller PGs/see the court for a nice pass. He needs a lot of role players surrounding him, so he can do his ISO thing. They got rid of those guys…and then added Irving. Adding another high usage, ball dominant player like Irving was the worst thing they could have done.

NorCalKingsFan
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April 5, 2023 6:05 pm
Reply to  cloudyeyes

I agree about Luka’s team building needs, but it’s weird that he had the “perfect fit” in Porzingis, a rim-running, 3pt shooting big with defensive chops, and it still didn’t work (prob due to KP’s health issues more than anything else). Luka needs complimentary role-players on the wing and in the post who can spread the floor and make up for his lack of defense, basically the hardest players to acquire. Just as the preview stated, not resigning Brunson forced them to make a splash at the cost of DFS & depth.

andy_sims
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April 5, 2023 5:22 pm
Reply to  oshima9

It’s an interesting question, because after everything, Sacramento has the better team.

McNair spun VD poop into platinum.

cloudyeyes
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April 5, 2023 4:45 pm

Vegas has Kings at +200 for a straight win. All over that one.

Bluejohn
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April 5, 2023 5:47 pm

Will awesome piece. Really started to get into your story.

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