Preview: Kings open NBA In-Season Tournament vs. Thunder
Nov 10, 2023, 9:01 AM
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
The day has finally come.
Whether you’re excited about it or rolling your eyes in anticipation, the Sacramento Kings will play its first NBA In-Season Tournament game on Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden 1 Center.
Sacramento (3-4) snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, and now they will look to jump out to a 1-0 start in Group Play when they face an up-and-coming Thunder team that has jumped out to a 5-3 start.
De’Aaron Fox (ankle sprain) and Trey Lyles (calf strain) will not suit up on Friday, meaning that a struggling Kings offense will have to right itself without two key rotation members.
New court. The debut of Sacramento’s Nike City Edition uniforms. A battle between two young, talented Western Conference counterparts.
It’s shaping up to be a fun night at Golden 1 Center.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) November 9, 2023
Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Game Info
NBA In-Season Tournament – West C Group Play
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: Thunder -1.5, O/U 231.5
Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Thunder coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.
Tickets: Click here
Will Shots Fall?
That’s the main question for the Kings tonight.
Through seven games, Sacramento ranks 24th in three-point field goal percentage (32%) as several key rotation members continue to struggle.
Kevin Huerter, who entered Wednesday’s game shooting 24 percent from downtown, displayed signs of life during the Kings’ win as the guard scored a season-high 17 points on four-of-nine shooting from beyond the three-point line.
Red Velvet splashes from deep ☔ pic.twitter.com/3FBAzvrmhY
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) November 9, 2023
While it was encouraging to see shots go down for Huerter, a lot of eyes will be on Keegan Murray during Friday’s action.
Murray has struggled so far this season to the tune of 12.3 points per game on 33 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from three-point range. The sophomore has been more aggressive this season (14.0 field goal attempts per game), but the results haven’t been there thus far.
The looks have been solid for Murray, and the talented forward will hope to fall in line with Huerter and find the bottom of the net against Oklahoma City.
“He’ll be fine, he’ll be fine,” Huerter said of Murray’s struggles following Wednesday’s win over Portland. “Keegan, he’s someone that is always in the gym. He’s a worker before practice after practice. It’s going to come, it’s going to get there. There’s ups and downs every season.”
Getting Murray’s offense going would be a strong development for a Sacramento offense that has looked like a shell of itself following a record-setting season in 2022-23.
The Kings enter play against Oklahoma City ranking 18th in the NBA when it comes to points per game (112.0) and 19th in offensive rating (110.1).
It was Huerter who found a rhythm on Wednesday. Is it Murray’s turn to snap out of his cold spell on Friday?
NINE GAME SLATE for the 2nd night of Group Play in the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament!
🏆 1-0 Nets visit Tatum, Celtics
🏆 Wemby, Spurs host Ant, Timberwolves
🏆 LeBron vs. KD for the 2nd time this season
— NBA (@NBA) November 10, 2023
How Does The NBA In-Season Tournament Work?
All 30 teams have been randomly drawn into five groups within their conference based on won-loss records from the 2022-23 regular season. Each team will play four designated Group Play games – one against each opponent in its group, with two games at home and two on the road.
Group Play games will be played on “Tournament Nights,” which will occur every Tuesday and Friday from Nov. 3-28. The only NBA games played on Tournament Nights will be Group Play games.
Eight teams will advance to the Knockout Rounds: the team with the best standing in Group Play games in each of the six groups and one “wild card” team from each conference. The wild card will be the team from each conference with the best record in Group Play games that finished second in its group.
Kings vs. Thunder Injury Report
De’Aaron Fox (right ankle sprain) missed his fifth-straight game on Friday night. There is no clear timetable on Fox, who appeared to be closing in on a return to action the last time we heard from the guard last week, as it appears the Kings will take it slow with their All-Star guard.
Trey Lyles (left calf strain) missed his eighth-straight game and has not appeared in a game this season. Lyles is also without a clear timetable but was working his way into game shape the last time the media was given an update on the forward.
- Keyontae Johnson – OUT (G-League)
- Kenrich Williams – OUT (low back spasms)
- Friday, November 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder** – 7 PM PST
- Monday, November 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – 7:00 PM PST
- Wednesday, November 15th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST
- Friday, November 17th – Sacramento Kings @ San Antonio Spurs – 4:30 PM PST
- Sunday, November 19th – Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks – 4:30 PM PST
** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play