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Kings vs Raptors Preview: Meteor Maker

The Raptors are six games under .500 and a blow up may be inevitable. Can the Kings capitalize on the chaos and take another W from the Raps?
By | 21 Comments | Jan 25, 2023

The Sacramento Kings are at home for the last time till Valentine’s Day weekend and they’re looking to finish their homestand strong against a Raptors’ squad stuck between a tank and a hard place. Still tough as nails, still as well run and well coached as any team in the league, the Raptors have still lost four of their last six games and at 1.5 games out of the last play-in spot are one of the absolutely lynch pins to the NBA Trade Deadline. Will the Raptors decimate what’s left of their championship core to better retool around Scotty Barnes? Will they hold tight and hope to turn it around in the second half of the season? Can I get through a whole preview without mentioning or referencing a certain blockbuster science fiction film released in 1993 directed by Steven Spielberg?? I’ll, uh, find a way!

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: Monday, January 25th, 7:00 PM PT
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
TV: NBC Sports California, NBATV
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140

For Your Consideration

Hold On To Your Barnes: I’ve been a Barnes skeptic for awhile now. If you’re a regular reader of my previews, you pretty much know that right around the time the pandemic hit and it was obvious the Kings weren’t going anywhere fast, that I felt that best thing that Harrison Barnes could possibly do for the Kings was… be traded for something in return. Granted, he’s never been a bad player, never been a bad locker room presence… he just wasn’t on the right timeline as the inevitable blow-up of the Kings. As time went on and the Walton era continued to flounder the man played checked out for stretches (an act for which I do not blame him), like a guy who knew he didn’t belong on a roster of struggling kids and struggling coaches. Harrison Barnes belonged on a team where he could be the third to fifth best man on a team vying for a conference finals, not the second best guy on a team that should be tanking. He knew, we knew it and yet, every year, his name would come up in trade rumors, the deadline would come, then the deadline would go with Harrison Barnes still on this team. A player too good for the tank, but not good enough to bring back a haul worthy of Monte’s opinion of him. 

He started the first 9-10 games this season in an absolutely bottomed out pit – under 10 points a game, shooting like, 17% from deep, and in my eyes, he was the candy bar you saved for a rainy day, then the day comes and the chocolate’s got a weird white film, the bar has crumbled to dust on the corners and you’ve just got to power through eating it because you’d held on for too long. The guy who kept the Kings from being too bad, started this season looking like the guy who might just keep the team from achieving new heights. The full sails of a sinking ship, now wet with sea water drowning those beneath it. 

Smash cut to today. In his last 8 games, Barnes is averaging 22.5 points on 57.9% shooting and SIXTY percent from deep on a tenth of a percentage point under 7 attempts a game. During this stretch, he’s had 4 games where he’s scored 27 or more and just two where he’s scored sub-20. The man scored 27 points or more just once in the entire SEASON prior to this stretch. He has hit 5 threes or more in half these games I’m referencing. The guy was sporting a three point percentage that was absolutely abysmal for the first third or more of the season and now, just past the half way point he’s up to 39%. There’s been more than a handful of games where Fox and Sabonis are sitting, or just not hitting and Harrison Barnes eurosteps his way into tough bucket after tough bucket until the two stars get back or back into rhythm. He’s had shooting sprees that kept the Kings afloat or pushed the Kings out ahead. The guy is playing out of his gourd right now. 

As the trade deadline approaches, I don’t expect to see Barnes moved. What’s more, I don’t WANT to see Barnes moved. Hell, you’ve got Mike Brown up in front of the media calling Barnes irreplaceable and citing his time in big moments being a calming presence for two stars who haven’t ever been very high, haven’t succeeded in the brightest moments. Well, the moments for these Sacramento Kings are getting brighter all the time and if Barnes is the man that holds them steady through it, so be it. As a fan of a team that’s wallowed in the NBA’s proverbial basement for sixteen years, I’m happy now to bask in the light.

Harrison Barnes, you’ve got a believer in me. 

On the other side of this coin, we’ve got the Toronto Raptors, who, while having been to the top and nabbed themselves a championship in 2019, are now in a semi-similar spot to where the Kings have been in recent years. Veteran talent keeping them afloat, youth with a bright future and a monkey wrench somewhere in the machine. At the top of the many talented guys, players like VanVleet, Siakam, OG Anunoby, is one mister Scottie Barnes. The reigning Rookie of the Year is an absolute junkyard dog, in all the right ways. I gushed about him pre-draft and fought with a few of you in the comments over him plenty of times. I was right, you were wrong. (No, no, I’m joking, there’s many shades of right and please remember I thought Willie Cauley-Stein was going to change the league forever). The point is, you don’t need to hear much from me about how good the guy is. You’ve read it before. But what we should question is just how Toronto decides to move forward with building their squad. Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Christian Koloko and even a kid like Dalano Banton (a 6-9 pg, drafted with a pick the Kings had owned previously) are some very nice little building blocks. Guys like OG, VanVleet and Siakam should all be able to fetch first rounders and talented youngsters back. Even someone like Gary Trent Jr. could bring in youth to better surround Barnes.

But will Masai do it? Will Nick Nurse stick around for it? Will a league with incredible parity right now swing wildly if the powers that be in Toronto blow this team to smithereens? We’ve got a little over two weeks before they have to decide and as much as I love a good tank with smart management and coaching at the helm, the decisions made in Toronto could cause ripples that are felt here in Sacramento, could change pretenders into contenders in a hurry and now that we have something at stake here in Sac… I’m casting a suspicious eye the Raptors way until the figure out what the heck they’re going to do with this franchise.

Prediction

Scottie Barnes, triple double. Domas Sabonis, triple double. Pascal Siakim 10+ full body rotation spin moves. De’Aaron Fox, 20 points in the 4th quarter. Nick Nurse, looking like he got caught cheating at his mom’s competitive bingo competition.

Kings: 119, Raptors:112

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murraytant
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January 25, 2023 1:29 pm

this is a big game- at this point they all are.
Raptors are beatable, especially in Sac. Injuries have contributed to their record but Kings need to “take care of business” The subsequent road trip is a huge trap trip.
Rui trade- too late now but what does he bring? better than Lyles?
Kings are very high on Keegan and HB has been lights out, so Rui-? let the LAL sort out his future money requests.

Minor move- Nik Richards- cheaper than Plumblee and will bang people in the paint. Rui would not guard the paint and has not seen a block or steal since college.

BeTheBall
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January 25, 2023 3:21 pm
Reply to  murraytant

The only thing I’d say Rui has on Lyles is age. Other than that, Trey has him both on offense and defense, as well as being a much better rebounder.

Jman1949
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January 25, 2023 1:41 pm

The Raptors decline isn’t stopping.
Some say that they’re open for shopping.
They have some good players—
Could answer our prayers—
But the price they’re asking is whopping!

Kosta
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January 25, 2023 2:44 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

Living in the limelight, the universal Beam
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be, must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation, the underlying theme

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Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
January 25, 2023 1:41 pm

Can someone who follows the Raptors more than I do explain why they are so bad this season. To me their roster looks like how modern NBA rosters should look. They got shooters, solid defenders ,a ROY, and an all-star in Siakam. They even have a positive point differential, yet the the 4th worst team in the East. What gives?

RobHessing
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January 25, 2023 2:40 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’m not an avid follower, but they are 25th in winning percentage while being 17th in team +/-. This tells me that they have perhaps lost more than their share of close games? Couple that with them not being all that great offensively and maybe that explains their challenge in closing out close games? Just spitballing here. 2nd worst FG% in the league, 28th in 3FG% and 26th in 3s made.

BeTheBall
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January 25, 2023 2:43 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Ugh…that means the Raptors could very easily have one of those “wow, their outside shooting is just clicking tonight” that seems to happen against us regularly.

RobHessing
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January 25, 2023 2:53 pm
Reply to  BeTheBall

I was shocked to find the Kings in the middle of the pack for defensive 3%. They are 28th in overall FG% defense, however.

OG_Aggie
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January 25, 2023 2:00 pm

I wish we had Scottie. He’s good, yes, but that isn’t why. We have a Beam, it’s Up there on the roof, and I’m a long time fan, so we have Me. If we had Scottie…. You get it.

Kosta
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January 25, 2023 4:53 pm
Reply to  OG_Aggie

comment image

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
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Nostradumbass 19
January 25, 2023 2:36 pm

Come on Kings! Let’s get that “Quest for Nine Games Over .500” done tonight!

Kosta
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January 25, 2023 2:38 pm
Reply to  Klam

Don’t let those hosers empty the Sac in our neighborhood, eh!

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Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
Kosta
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January 25, 2023 2:39 pm

Lukewarm take:

Barnes > Barnes

Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
RobHessing
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January 25, 2023 2:59 pm
Reply to  Kosta

If you don’t like Matt Barnes, you don’t know spit.

Kosta
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January 25, 2023 4:55 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Good God. Ugh.

eddie41
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January 25, 2023 3:14 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Are you paraphrasing a line from Platoon?

Kosta
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January 25, 2023 4:56 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Not intentionally…?

Kingsguru21
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January 25, 2023 5:04 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Who intentionally quotes Willem Dafoe?

RockRichmond2
January 25, 2023 6:56 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I’m a bit of a Willem DaFoe quoter myself

Want2win
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January 25, 2023 3:02 pm

Nice write up, I have been a Harrison Barnes fan boy for quite a while. I love all of his intangibles, what I really appreciate about him this year has been his ability to get that big bucket when we seem to be reeling. And as you mentioned, it always seems to be that great euro step. I am baffled when I look at the roster of Toronto and trying to figure out why they’re playing so poorly.

Kingsguru21
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January 25, 2023 4:47 pm

This preview is perfectly cromulent, Will. You are cleared for takeoff. Don’t hit any short armed one eyed lizards with teeth the size of your head get a hold of ya tho! That might not be good for your mental health, or the Raptors plan of running an all 6’9 lineup out there!

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