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Commentary | Orlando

Eight Games

These are the most important eight games for the Kings in over a decade. Hopefully they're up to the challenge.

2020 has been a strange, exhausting, miserable year.  The world is topsy-turvy, so wouldn't it just be par for the course if amidst all this chaos, the Sacramento Kings managed to break their 14 year playoff drought?

It's been so long since the Kings have played meaningful basketball that an entire generation has been born and grown into adulthood with no memory of the Kings ever actually being good.  These upcoming eight games aren't playoff basketball, but they might as well be.  Every single game is a must win.  The margins are tight, as Tim showcased thoroughly.

The Kings may have been hurt more than most by the postponement of the NBA season in March.  Sacramento was one of the hottest teams in the league, having gone 7-3.  That momentum is gone now, and the Kings have seen their competition only get healthier and better in that time.  The Blazers have both Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back.  Zion Williamson has had even more time to practice and get into shape with the Pelicans.  The Grizzlies have had a chance to regroup and have much less risk of anyone catching up to them in only half the games and a play-in tournament to boot.

Nobody expects the Kings to do anything.  Hell, certain publications don't even seem to remember the Kings were even invited to the bubble.  And to be fair, the Kings have proven time after time over the last decade-plus that betting against them is usually the smart move.

These eight games are their chance to prove the doubters wrong.  This is their chance to prove that February and March wasn't a fluke.

The Kings, for their part, seem to understand this.  They have a giant chip on their shoulder, and for good reason.

But it won't mean much if they don't show up and put their best foot forward for these eight games in Orlando.  Playing well still doesn't guarantee anything, especially with a play-in tournament involved, but it's up to the Kings to put themselves in that position and not just be left by the wayside wondering what might have been.

These are the most important eight games for the Sacramento Kings in a long damn time and I hope they're up to the challenge.  We'll find out soon enough.

 

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Hong Kong Kings Fan
12 days ago

Just play their A+ game for those 8 games……

What the players need to do
-HUSTLE
-Good shot selection
-Don’t just settle for jump shots, drive inside and draw foul
-More passing and ball movement and move without the ball
-DEFENSE

and Let’s Go, Kings

Adam Dieter
12 days ago

I second the DEFENSE. This team doesn’t seem to have a problem scoring, it’s stopping the other team from scoring more points that’s the problem.

A G
12 days ago

Me before the game tonight:
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Me after the game tonight:
 comment image

Kings Guru21
12 days ago
Reply to  Dub_TC

A’s play the Mariners at 6:40 tonight if that’s more your cup of tea…..

Last edited 12 days ago by Kingsguru21
Henry Stroud
12 days ago
Reply to  Dub_TC

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Rob Hessing
12 days ago

Rooting hard for the players. The front office and coaching staff? Not so much.
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Kevin Lam
12 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

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Graham Caplan
12 days ago

The boys are back in town! 
 
 

Last edited 12 days ago by LandParkJimmer
Kings Guru21
12 days ago

Gonna repost this:

If I were picking teams to get the 8th seed, I’d pick New Orleans. They have the easiest schedule, and have a monster collection of talent at the top of their rotation the Kings don’t have. But whether or not it comes together, it shall remain to be seen. I’m not betting against them, though.
 
I’d be very surprised if the Pelicans don’t finish at least 5-3, and I think the Kings have to finish at least 6-2. Based on the Spurs and in particular the Blazers schedule, I think the Kings have to finish a minimum of 6-2. And the Pels can’t have more than 5 wins. Who knows how the Grizzlies finish, they have a tough schedule as well.
 
I think the Kings COULD do it, but nobody in their right mind would bet against the Pelicans due to their talent and schedule ahead of them. The toughest games they are playing are right now against Utah, and Saturday against the Clippers. But they also play the Kings twice, and both teams really hold their own destiny IMO. The Kings toughest two games are Houston (6th game on the schedule) and the Lakers (8th game). If the Kings start 2-0 and the Pelicans start 0-2 or even just 1-1, the Kings will have their chances.
 
It comes down to whether or not this group can get their act together and beat the team in front of them like San Antonio and Orlando to start. Beating New Orleans both times is a must. But I think the Kings have a good opportunity to make this play-in game if they continue playing well as they were before the season is put on pause.
 
The only thing that I think keeps the Kings from making it if the Blazers or Pelicans just go nuts and run the table. But I don’t see anybody running the table, that’s alot easier said than done.
 
To say the Kings don’t have chances would simply be apologist talk. The Kings have their chances. But they are going to have show everyone that they can take advantage of these opportunities. Also, it would be fun if the bubble became Swipa’s coming out party. Jes’ sayin’….

Adam Dieter
12 days ago
Reply to  Kingsguru21

After watching the Pels last night, I really question their defense. They can’t seem to spot anyone from getting into the paint. That would be a solid advantage for the Kings with Fox’s ability to drive and kick. They also struggled to defend the pick and roll. I’d give them a heavy dose of Fox and Holmes PnR.
 
My pick is Portland. They are experienced and they are healthy. Having Nurkic back is going to give them a solid boost. We will see how they do tonight against Memphis. If Portland dominates the Grizz, I’d put money on them making the play-in tournament. They also hold that slight % advantage to having played two more games than the Kings so they hold any tie breaker

Kings Guru21
12 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

After the Grizz today, the Blazers play the Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets and Clippers. THEN, they play the 76ers, Mavs and finish with the Nets.

That’s probably the toughest schedule in the bubble. I think winning 3 at most 4 games is their best case scenario.

Last edited 12 days ago by Kingsguru21
Adam Dieter
12 days ago
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Wow, I hadn’t studied the schedule that closely. You are right, it is a tough path for Portland

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

5th toughest. Based on pre-COVID performance, at least.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Yeah, that’s why I have them and the Kings at roughly even odds for the 9th spot. But forced to choose I’d probably say the Kings have a slightly better chance.
 
That said, this whole thing is so weird, who knows? Small sample size. No real home/away. Odd environments (which I think will impact both players and reffing). Varying degrees of conditioning and readiness/rustiness. Varying degrees of motivation between those that are in and those fighting for it. I mean, the Blazers have a much harder schedule, but those teams will most likely also be more focused on just not getting injured, fine-tuning systems, etc. Some of them may treat the games much more like pre-season games.

Kings Guru21
12 days ago

Good points here.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Basically just a long-winded way to say I have no idea what to expect.

Michael McKay
12 days ago

I dont think this eight games, or even playoffs, are going to be easy to predict. It will be interesting to see what players and teams are able to focus well.

Kings Guru21
12 days ago

There are alot of variables here. There’s no way to know them all.

Rory Cornell
12 days ago
Reply to  Kingsguru21

im really curious to see Fox’s approach tonight. He’s such an unselfish player, and too often prioritizes getting his players involved early. They’re at the best though when he’s a decided to singlehandedly beast his opponent into submission. It forces the opponent into making really bad rotational mistakes that then leads easy opportunities for his teammates. If he can unlock that selfish unselfishness from the get go, then they’ll be in great shape.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

He seems to be one that really needs the extrinsic motivation to be his best. Fortunately it looks like he’s been taking the media’s predictions personally.

Rory Cornell
12 days ago

That’s what gives me hope if they end up in the play-in with Memphis. I can’t imagine a scenario that would motivate him more than the Ja media hype train preceding game 1. He’d understand winning those games, and personally outplaying Ja, would go a long way to securing his spot as the best young point guard in the NBA.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

Absolutely.
 
I should also note that I find this hugely frustrating. The best players get up for every game. Not just the Ja/Ball style matchups. Fox has to develop that mentality if he’s really going to be a franchise cornerstone.

Michael McKay
12 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

Well said Rordog.

I think the other player to watch is Buddy. His ability to get hot and stay hot makes him our most dangerous player. If we get to the play-in, it will be on the backs of those two.

Kings Guru21
12 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

I’m with you on Fox. I’m intrigued to see how he does in these 8 games generally speaking.

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago
Reply to  Kingsguru21

It’s kind of boring, but I think the Grizz will hold on and win one game in the play-in. They are good, young, motivated and well-coached team. It would be tough for any of the other 8-seed seekers in the west to beat them twice in a row.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

It’s statistically the most likely outcome.

Kings Guru21
12 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Wouldn’t be shocked by that.

Ralph Lawrence Reyes
12 days ago

Might be the best time to try that small lineup for the Kings. Looks like the spurs are going to play Derozan at the 4 spot tonight.

Prediction for tonights lineup for the Kings.

Fox, Hield, Bogdanovic, Barnes and Holmes as the starters.

Hong Kong Kings Fan
12 days ago
Reply to  RAP87

I think we would just stick with the usual lineup…..with Hield off the bench and BJelly playing the starting PF….

If Derozan is playing the 4…I will simply give the ball and goes to Barnes every single possession to draw foul from Derozan, easy and simply strategy.

Adam Dieter
12 days ago

I’d pick and roll the hell out of Fox and Holmes tonight. Park Nemanja, Barnes, and Bogi on the perimeter. Spurs only have Poeltl and Zeller as their bigs. Also give them a heavy dose of Barnes on the block. Force DeRozan to defend him and get him in foul trouble like you said.
 
I will say, I’m a bit worried about Rudy Gay if they put him at the 4 with DeRozan at the 3 . He could be the difference maker for the Spurs.

Parker Wells
12 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

Agree in principle. The issue is that Fox isn’t terribly good in the PnR. I mean he’s ok but it’s certainly not a strength of his game yet. Also, Spurs have a couple pretty good PG defenders in Murray and White.

Adam Dieter
12 days ago
Reply to  Wonderchild

My hope that by setting a solid screen and rolling by Holmes the Kings would get the switch on defense and leave Poeltl or Ziller on Fox.

Greg Lederman
12 days ago

Much too logical. Expect tons of off-balance 3-pointers throughout the night.

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago
Reply to  RAP87

Man, the thought of Walton trying to keep up strategically with Pop is not making me feel too confident. Hopefully the assistant coaches like Rana have some input.

Ralph Lawrence Reyes
12 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Nahh I think the spurs are half way conceding the tournament. As per report they are treating these 8 games as a developmental tournament for their young pups. King SHOULD take care of this one. If they lose today, that will be the end of their playoff hopes. Might as well let our young guys play and treat it as a summer league.

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago
Reply to  RAP87

I remember last year when people thought the Clippers were conceding the 8th seed after they traded Tobias Harris. And this year people thought the Thunder weren’t interested in winning this year… they just wanted to showcase CP3 and trade him.

I’m not convinced the Kings can really be counted on to take care of anything at this point. Any given night we could look really good, or we could get blown out. I hope you’re right though, this would be a really big win.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

I think A LOT of people overrate Harris’s impact on winning. I’m still amazed at the speed at which he went from underrated to highly overrated. IMO. I honestly think both the trade for him and giving him the big contract have hurt PHI more than helped.

Eric W
12 days ago

As a random but related comment, I think a lot of people have also underrated how good Gallinari has been the past couple years.

Adam Dieter
12 days ago

SPRAINED EYELASH…OUT 6 WEEKS.

…in all honesty I agree with you about Gallinari. He’s just as important to the Thunder’s success as Paul, IMO.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

IMO, that team is a testament to high BBIQ and complementary skillsets.
 
And one reason I’m jealous the Pistons hired Troy Weaver.

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago

Shoot I didn’t know he got hired somewhere… Welp, maybe someday we’ll get our Troy Weaver.

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago

True, I just remember that the narrative was that the Clippers were playing for a lottery pick after the all-star break last year.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  RAP87

Or at least getting a lot of minutes. As usual, I’m less worried about who starts than I am about total minutes and who finishes.

Rik Smits
12 days ago

Probably an unpopular opinion, but the only sense in which these games are “important” to me, personally, is that if they make the play-in or end up on the cusp of it, this FO will call it a roaring success and pat each other on the back on the way to another 5 years of frustration and stupidity.
 
Overall, it is a sad affair that this fanbase should be starving for a most unusual backdoor play-into the play-offs and call these the most important games in over a decade.
 
As Rob pointed out, I will hope for the players to succeed but for the FO and the long term view of this organization for them to crash and burn. And that will be a paradox; during games I will urge the team on, and afterwards will feel fine if they have lost.
 
It’s a win-win situation for me!

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago
Reply to  RikSmits

For me, it seems like a given that Vlade will at least be around next season regardless of how the team plays in the 8 games (unfortunately). Even if they go 0-8, the narrative will be that the long layoff killed their momentum, and injuries, and yadda yadda yadda.

Next season (I WOULD THINK) there are no more excuses for this FO and either they are moving forward or not. But I could be wrong; I should never count out the Kings org when it comes to making excuses.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Vlade and Luke are going to be around next season.
 
I have to emotionally prepare myself by accepting that as fact.

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago

Yeah I think that’s inevitable. Maybe the best we can hope for is Vivek will bring in a quality exec as an “assistant” to make sure there are no major screw-ups. Like how Scott Perry brought some semi-competence here for a few months.

Greg Lederman
12 days ago
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Not having Grant around here next year will help silence some the excuses that Vlade will want the media to parrot for him.

Maxwell Huss
12 days ago
Reply to  Gregoryl

It will definitely be more pleasant without Grant. But I think there are many potential apologists in our local media to fill that void, unfortunately.

Rik Smits
12 days ago
Reply to  Gregoryl

Yeah, think again.

Greg Lederman
12 days ago
Reply to  RikSmits

Bets on who the new Grant is? Needs to be someone with similar presence in the market (ie. Matt George isn’t it…)

Eric W
12 days ago

Fortunately for the Kings its “anything can happen in a small sample” time. So a single game (like the Pelicans losing after leading most of the game) can make a HUGE difference. Teams will beat some they shouldn’t and lose to some they shouldn’t,. If those line up right for the Kings it could be a lot of fun.

Tony Xypteras
Admin
12 days ago

I’m rarely optimistic when it comes to this continually disappointing franchise, but for whatever reason I have a good feeling about how they will perform in the bubble. It might not be enough to make the playoffs, or the play-in, because they don’t really control their own destiny unless they play well above expectations, so they’ll likely need some help to get in, but I like what I’m hearing from the players.

They seem to understand the moment. You can sense the urgency from guys like Fox and Buddy to end the drought. I think they have enough talent considering who they are competing with. They have a nice schedule.

So I’m cautiously optimistic, and at the same time, fully prepared for disappointment.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  TonyXypteras

They control their own destiny as much or more than any other team fighting for the play-in slot.

Mark Anstead
12 days ago

In a small corner of England today, sitting on the Beach with wife and my son – a man walked down wearing a Bibby 10 shirt – 1st time in 15 years of fandom I’ve met anyone with Kings Gear on — its a sign – tonight we shall win 🙂

Last edited 12 days ago by ukca375
T D
12 days ago

Rut roh! We shall see if there is a last minute scratch!
 

Neil V
12 days ago
Reply to  1951

Ouch! I’m sure it’ll be fine with the negative test results. Inconclusive > Negative > Negative. Seems good there.

Neil V
12 days ago

Was wondering if you guys know who we are rooting for for tomorrows game against Memphis and Portland?

I mean todays game…

Last edited 12 days ago by beephop
Adam Dieter
12 days ago
Reply to  beephop

I would think Memphis. They are a near lock for the play-in so I consider Portland more of a threat to the Kings’ chances.

Eric W
12 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

Agreed.

Bradley Williamson
12 days ago

I’m conflicted if I want to see a close win by the Kings or a hopeful blowout! I know, wishful thinking. I’ve got plenty of stress in my life right know so I’m hoping the game tonight will bring some enjoyment instead of pain! Come on boys, don’t let me down! GO KINGS!

Kas Keyes
12 days ago

Kings 8-0
We want ALL the smoke.

Rory Cornell
12 days ago
Reply to  9sac8

The thing that I’m worried about is they never really played like a team that wanted all the smoke this season. There just weren’t a whole lot dominate performances in which the team competed for all 48 minutes. I’m basically withholding optimism until I see how they play tonight.

Kas Keyes
12 days ago

Kings 8-0…period.

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