I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! The Kings are back in action tonight in another In-Season Tournament matchup with perhaps Sacramento’s toughest challenge yet: The Western Conference leading Minnesota Timberwolves. That’s right, the Timberwolves are leading the West at 11-3 and it doesn’t look to be a fluke either. Their defense is currently the best in the NBA and Anthony Edwards is an emerging two-way superstar. This is going to be a tough matchup for the Kings without anything extra on the line, but the winner of tonight’s match will in all likelihood advance to the knockout stage of the In-Season Tournament.
Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Sunday, November 24th, 5:00 PM PST
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140
In-Season Tournament West Group C Standings
1. Sacramento Kings 2-0 (+16 Point Differential)
2. Minnesota Timberwolves 2-0 (+10 Point Differential)
3. Golden State Warriors 1-1 (-1 Point Differential)
4. Oklahoma City Thunder 1-2 (+27 Point Differential)
5. San Antonio Spurs 0-3 (-52 Point Differential)
Three in the Key
Paint the town
In both of Sacramento’s two recent losses to the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento was dominated in the paint. New Orleans outscored the Kings 126 to 68 in the paint over the two games and that wasn’t even at full strength. The Kings had no answer for Zion Williamson inside and on the other end had trouble getting anything going themselves. De’Aaron Fox usually lives in the paint but the Pelicans did a good job using their size and length to keep him out and encourage him to shoot outside shots. The Wolves are even better at preventing teams from scoring in the paint, allowing just 43.3 points in the paint a game, 4th best in the league. Rudy Gobert is back to playing like a 3x Defensive Player of the Year and Karl-Anthony Towns is yet another 7 footer to deal with down low. The Wolves will be without defensive stalwart Jaden McDaniels, who likely would have matched up against Fox, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Anthony Edwards take that task on himself as he is a burgeoning defender in his own right. Last year the Kings struggled with Minnesota, going just 1-3, with their sole win coming in Overtime. A big reason for that win was the use of Trey Lyles as a small ball center which pulled Rudy Gobert out of the paint. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Coach Brown try that again tonight with Lyles finally back and off a good debut in which he scored 12 points off the bench.
Anthony Edwards hasn’t fully taken over the NBA just yet, but it seems like a matter of time. Edwards is getting better and better each year and is averaging career-highs across the board in almost every category. The scariest part is he’s only 22 years old. His combination of shooting and athleticism is rarely seen and he’s coming into his own as an emerging superstar. Last season against the Kings, he averaged 27.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists, shooting 53% from the field and 41.4% from three. He’s even better now and I’m not sure the Kings have a great answer for him, especially if Keegan Murray continues to miss some time with his lower back injury. Edwards isn’t Minnesota’s only weapon (Towns is still a force in his own right), but he’s definitely their most important one. It will take a team effort to slow him down.
Three Points > Two Points
The Wolves have some decent outside shooters, but they don’t like to shoot a ton of them. They rank just 28th in total attempts and 25th in three point attempt rate. The Kings are quite the opposite, sitting at 3rd in the NBA in both. If the Kings can win the battle from the perimeter it will make life a lot easier for them.
Lawler’s law is officially instated as an actual rule and the game finishes as Domantas Sabonis makes a free throw to win the game in the 3rd quarter.
Kings 100, Timberwolves 99