SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Kings open home-heavy stretch of schedule vs. Bulls

Mar 4, 2024, 9:07 AM

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 03: Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings defends Alex Caruso #6 o...

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

It was a successful weekend for the Sacramento Kings in their race for a top-six spot in the Western Conference.

Following Friday’s thrilling overtime win over the then-top-seed Minnesota Timberwolves, teams ahead or around Sacramento in the standings–namely Phoenix, Dallas, Golden State, and the Los Angeles Lakers–all suffered losses, lifting the Kings to the sixth and final playoff spot.

Sacramento (34-25) will hope to keep things moving forward on Monday night when they face the Chicago Bulls (28-32) at Golden 1 Center.

With the 2023-24 regular season in its final stretch, the Kings will play 15 of their last 23 games on their home floor, including seven of their next eight contests.

At a time when the standings are as volatile as ever, Sacramento must do a better job of picking up wins against teams that are sub-.500 or beneath them in the standings. Which version of the Kings will show up on Monday? The team that beat the Timberwolves on the road, or the team that lost to the shorthanded Miami Heat at home one week ago?

Let’s find out.

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Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls Game Info

When: 7:00 PM PST

Where: Golden 1 Center  – Sacramento, CA

TV: NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 5:30 PM on Game Night

Line: Kings -6.5, O/U 227.5

Tickets: Click here

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

The Return of Fox?

De’Aaron Fox has missed the past two games due to a left knee contusion, but the All-NBA guard told reporters on Sunday that he is nearing a return–one that could come as soon as Monday against the Bulls.

“I feel better, I was able to go through practice [on Sunday], so I’m optimistic about [Monday] for sure,” Fox said when asked if he felt he will be able to play against Chicago.

Fox, who suffered the contusion last Monday against Miami when he banged knees with a Heat player, was wearing protective padding on his left leg during practice, but appears close to a return.

The Kings have missed their star guard, and getting him back against the Bulls would give the starting lineup a scoring punch that it has lacked during Fox’s two-game absence.

A return against Chicago’s defense would be especially welcome for Fox, who is averaging 29.7 points on 54 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent from three-point range during his past three matchups against the Bulls, including a 41-point performance the last time that these teams met on February 3rd.

Consistency for Keegan

Keegan Murray’s development as a defender has taken an impressive leap this season, but the forward has gone through hot-and-cold stretches on the offensive end.

Over a ten-game stretch from January 29th through February 14th, Murray averaged 10.0 points per contest on 42 percent shooting and 28 percent from beyond the arc. Sacramento needs more out of Murray on the offensive end, and the former fourth-overall pick turned the page at the end of February.

Murray has scored 20 points or more in two of the past three games while averaging 18.6 points and 5.2 rebounds on 53/53/100 shooting splits over the past five contests.

The Iowa product’s offensive skillset looks much different in Year 2 than it did during his rookie campaign. Murray isn’t solely relying on spot-ups and dribble-hand-offs to get his shot opportunities, he’s creating off-the-dribble in the form of step-backs and floaters, which have been very effective within ten feet of the basket.

Murray’s ceiling has yet to be established, and the forward’s recent flashes act as a reminder of why an All-Star appearance down the road isn’t out of the question.

Point of Attack

Chicago’s league-leading paint defense could cause Sacramento to rely on the three-ball during Monday’s action.

The Bulls have held opponents to 44.3 points in the paint per game this season, which is the best mark in the NBA entering play on March 4th. Chicago outscored the Kings in the paint 52-50 during their previous showdown at United Center on February 3rd, while Sacramento found success from three-point range (38%).

As strong as the Bulls’ interior defense has been this season, they don’t possess the same success from downtown. Chicago’s three-point defense comes in at 17th as opponents have converted 36.9 percent of their attempts from deep this season.

The Kings hold a 27-9 record when shooting 35 percent of better from beyond the arc, meaning that there is a good chance Sacramento will come out on top of the triples are falling on Monday night.

Notes

  • The Kings enter play with a four-game head-to-head winnings streak vs. Chicago. Sacramento hasn’t lost to the Bulls since February 16, 2022, and their last loss vs. Chicago at Golden 1 Center took place on December 2, 2019.

Kings vs. Bulls Injury Report

Sacramento

  • De’Aaron Fox – QUESTIONABLE (left knee contusion)
  • Sasha Vezenkov – OUT (right ankle sprain)

Chicago

  • Alex Caruso – QUESTIONABLE (right hamstring strain)
  • Lonzo Ball – OUT (left knee surgery)
  • Torrey Craig – OUT (right knee sprain)
  • Zach LaVine – OUT (right mid-foot surgery)
  • Patrick Williams – OUT (left mid-foot bone edema)

Upcoming Schedule

  • Monday, March 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, March 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, March 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, March 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 3:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, March 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 7:00 PM PST

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