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Kings 113, Clippers 98: Are the NBA Finals on the horizon?

De'Aaron Fox was sensational.

After a win over the short-handed Phoenix Suns to kick off the 2021 NBA preseason, the Sacramento Kings dominated the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday evening. The game was a back-and-forth affair for much of the first half, but the Kings leveraged a 23-4 close to the third quarter to blow the game open, and it was never particularly close from that point on. While preseason basketball doesn't mean much in the long run, a few things stood out:

  • De'Aaron Fox is man-sized and playing like it. After a rough start against the Suns, Sacramento's cornerstone was the best player on the court in every moment in which he was in the game. In just 22 minutes, he scored 23 points, grabbed four boards, and dished out four assists, while shooting 7/10 from the field, 3/5 from deep, and 6/6 from the free throw line. He looked like an All-Star.
  • Davion Mitchell continued to show his effectiveness on the defensive end. At one point, he completely flummoxed the 6' 8" All-Star Paul George, forcing him into an awkward turnaround jumper that bounced off of the side of the backboard. Mitchell also found his comfort zone in the second half offensively, ending the night with 13 points, 3 boards, and 4 assists.

  • The three-guard core of Fox, Haliburton, and Mitchell all look special in their own, individual ways, and more importantly, their skillsets seem to overlap without being redundant.
  • Sacramento's improved depth also showed out. Alex Len was solid in his time on the court, Buddy Hield found his range in the third quarter, and Terence Davis was a force off of the bench, pouring in 15 points in 14 minutes.
  • Luke Walton tried out a bit of a wonky starting lineup, running out De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Moe Harkless, Harrison Barnes, and Tristan Thompson, and while he hinted pre-game that such a starting lineup could be used in the future, starting Thompson over Holmes feels pretty unlikely.

The Kings are off until Monday evening, where they'll take on Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Kosta
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October 6, 2021 11:31 pm

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Kosta
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October 6, 2021 11:47 pm
Reply to  Kosta

LOL, how did I miss him getting traded?
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Kosta
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October 6, 2021 11:33 pm

Several impressive defensive plays by Davion don’t show up in the box score.

As Davion said in an interview (paraphrasing)

“All that matters is the W’s.”

Last edited 7 days ago by Kosta
reydarly
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October 7, 2021 12:31 am

Doug Christie’s move to the coaching staff is looking like it’s paying off and may be the dark horse for the MVP depending on the results of the season. And Davion was the right pick. The way he guarded George with a size disadvantage was all I needed to see. Hopefully this perceived progress leads to a play in.

fire_voisin
October 7, 2021 4:29 am
Reply to  reydarly

Thanks for being a part of the Kings Herald comment community, Doug. But maybe you want to ease up on calling yourself as an assistant coach the “MVP”.

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rockbottom
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October 7, 2021 7:22 am
Reply to  reydarly

Was not Longardi just hired as the top defensive assistant coach ? Might need to pump the bakes on that ! Christie is not one of 4 assistants !

Marty
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October 7, 2021 8:21 am
Reply to  reydarly

Doug Christie’s move to the coaching staff is looking like it’s paying off and may be the dark horse for the MVP 

Nomination for all-time hot preseason takes right there.

KingsSince85
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October 7, 2021 10:54 am
Reply to  reydarly

Sounds like other had issues with your DC comment. What bugs me infinitely more, however, is when people talk about the play in like it’s a goal… The play in means absolutely zero unless you win the pay in game(s) to get to the actual playoffs. The playoffs are the goal, NOT the play in. …and as unlikely as it probably is, a top 6 seed should really be the goal so as to avoid the play in entirely.

Marty
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October 7, 2021 11:02 am
Reply to  KingsSince85

BREAKING pathetic franchise has pathetic goals.

Gregoryl
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October 7, 2021 11:42 am
Reply to  KingsSince85

Wild Card and Play-In are not the playoffs.

eddie41
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October 7, 2021 6:27 am

Looks like Davion can help solve some of those concerns about roster balance or depth at SF. As the article says, he defended Paul George well. He also was the only player who didn’t let Brandon Boston do whatever he wanted to do. Although the box score does not show it, Boston impressed with ability to drive by Fox with ease, and get up shots over anyone. But the one possession where Davion guarded him, he swiped the ball out of his hands. So if we’re wondering who else can guard tall wings after Barnes and Harkless, … Davion.

aplumley
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October 7, 2021 8:19 am
Reply to  eddie41

I think issues will be with rebounding. But he can guard pretty much anyone on the perimeter it seems. Len and Thompson are both decent if not good rebounding bigs, so they might help cover up some of that deficiency.

eddie41
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October 7, 2021 8:51 am
Reply to  aplumley

Yeah, I see that. The solution might have to be a collective effort.

murraytant
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October 7, 2021 11:04 am
Reply to  eddie41

yes, lots of situational substitutions- TT can do well against some centers and Len will do well against others. Same with 3 guard line up combinations
Kings need a coach who anticipates, does not react and plans in advance. Sarcastically, this sounds like coach fluke.

murraytant
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October 7, 2021 11:02 am
Reply to  eddie41

In college, he did a great job on Cade Cunningham who is 6-8 and sort of similar to PG3. He seems to do well on ball handlers- put the ball on the floor and he is all over it. He suffers in post ups from bigger players and that will be the counter move by opponents

anan1234
October 7, 2021 6:55 am

Never been more excited to see someone play defense. Davion is a defensive genius out there. For a 6 Ft. guard to make Paul George uncomfortable takes a high level of skill. Loving the 3 guard line-up of Fox, Hali, and Davion.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
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Nostradumbass 18
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October 7, 2021 7:04 am

Still undefeated!

HongKongKingsFan
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October 7, 2021 7:45 am

Okay, I can quite sure Fox, Tyrese and Barnes are the deemed as the starters for sure.

But I think in next pre-season game, it’s time to try to insert Metu into the starting lineup, together with Alex Len…

Fox
Tyrese
Barnes
Metu
Len

p.s. To my long-time eye test on Bagley, he is still the same guy..
NO DIFFERENCE…….he does not deserve big minutes at all.
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TerzoM
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