Fox, Lyles preview Sacramento’s upcoming In-Season Tournament matchup with Golden State

Nov 27, 2023, 3:07 PM

Trey Lyles #41 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Dario Saric #20 of the Golden State Warriors dur...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Trey Lyles #41 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Dario Saric #20 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Golden 1 Center on October 15, 2023 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Not far removed from a six-game road trip, the Sacramento Kings (9-6) practiced Monday morning. After the conclusion of their group workouts, De’Aaron Fox and Trey Lyles spoke with the media about their upcoming pivotal In-Season Tournament game against the Golden State Warriors, the value of potentially winning the inaugural trophy, their ‘next man up’ mentality, and more.

With their 124-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Kings control their destiny within the In-Season Tournament. If they can defeat the Warriors, with a returning Draymond Green, on Tuesday night, Sacramento will sit alone atop West Group C.

However, they could remain in contention despite a loss, with point-differential functioning as the next tie-breaker. The Kings have been aware of that importance since their first matchup within the new format.

“For us, with the way the In-Season Tournament games have gone, we’ve had a commanding lead in all of our games, and I think every game has come down to us thinking about the point (differential) and trying to get a last-second basket whenever we can,” Fox said Monday. “It’s been important for us.”

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The star guard also highlighted that there will only ever be one inaugural trophy, meaning one team in history can rightfully claim it. “If you can win that first In-Season Tournament, you’re stamped in history,” he said. “Just like me last year with the Clutch Player of the Year. No one can ever take that away from you.”

Of course, it’s the Warriors that stand in their way. Green returns following a five-game suspension, with Golden State finishing 2-3 in his absences. His presence will add to a night with significant implications for the inaugural In-Season Tournament.

Yet, beyond that, there are late-season factors at play. Head-to-head matchups are the initial tie-breaker for end-of-season standings en route to the NBA championship, and the Kings are already climbing an uphill battle in that aspect.

“They got us the first two games, so we want to make sure that we don’t go down 0-3 in the season’s head-to-head,” Lyles said. “We’ve just got to go out there and compete. Fight like it’s a game seven, and we’ll be okay.”

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Lyles strained his right calf while warming up for a preseason showdown in Golden State and had not made his season debut until this past week.

He has played well in two games since returning from injury and made a notable impact off the bench. The forward shared that his recovery process took longer than initially expected, but patience is vital in these scenarios.

“I’m a competitor,” he said. “So, I was itching to get back out there, but the staff here did a great job of holding me accountable and keeping me at a steady pace and making sure that when I came back, I was fully able to do everything I’m capable of.”

When on the floor, Lyles emphasizes two things he feels are most within a player’s control: effort and energy. The 6’8 forward seems to have accomplished that since returning, while others capitalized on increased opportunity amidst his absence.

A ‘next man up’ mentality is commonly mentioned around Sacramento’s team, and that seems to have been embraced since Mike Brown took over as head coach, something he credits Steve Kerr for teaching him.

“It just shows the depth that we have on this team, and that next-man mentality is really at the forefront when that situation happens,” Lyles said. “So, kudos to everybody for staying ready and being professional and ready when their name is called.”

With Keegan Murray’s (lower back) availability currently uncertain heading into tomorrow’s In-Season Tournament matchup, maintaining that mentality will be crucial. Especially considering the injuries don’t stop there for Sacramento, with Alex Len (ankle) and Keon Ellis (ankle) also potentially remaining sidelined.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

Did someone ask for more Kings vs. Warriors?

Sacramento will wrap up its Group Play portion of their NBA In Season Tournament schedule on Tuesday night when Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors travel to Golden 1 Center for a matchup that will air nationally on TNT.

After playing six-straight games on the road, the Kings will open up a four-game home stand–although the home stand could be interrupted by a brief trip to Las Vegas if Sacramento can defeat the Warriors and claim a spot in the Knockout Round.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Warriors coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tuesday, November 28th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors** – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Clippers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 2nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST
  • December 3rd-10th: NBA In-Season Tournament Week (Schedule TBD)
  • Monday, December 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, December 12th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 7:30 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play

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