NBA

Preview: Kings, Pelicans meet with trip to Las Vegas on the line

Dec 4, 2023, 7:42 AM | Updated: 7:43 am

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 22: Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings reacts against the New ...

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Elimination basketball has arrived.

The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans will meet on Monday night with a chance to advance to the NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals in Las Vegas when the two Western Conference counterparts meet at Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento (11-7) clinched Group C with a perfect 4-0 record, while the Pelicans (11-10) went 3-1 in Group B to grab a spot in the quarterfinals.

It should be an action-packed matchup for these two teams that will be fighting for their In-Season Tournament lives, and a packed house is expected for a Kings team that will be playing its fourth-straight game on their home floor.

Following a 2-4 start to the season, Sacramento has won nine of its past 12 games. However, two of those losses have come against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pelicans handed the Kings two losses at the Smoothie King Center on November 20th and 22nd, including a 129-93 defeat that was Sacramento’s worst loss since they dropped a 136-104 game on February 2nd of last season–against the Pelicans on their home floor.

One team advances to Las Vegas. One team will be eliminated from In-Season Tournament contention. Here we go.

Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game Info

NBA In-Season Tournament Quarterfinals (Single-elimination)

When: 7:00 PM PST

Where: Golden 1 Center – Sacramento, CA

TV: TNT

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

Line: Kings -3.5, O/U 234.5

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

Tickets: Click here

Living & Dying By The 3

Good things happen for the Kings when the long ball is falling.

As was evident during Sacramento’s win over the defending champion Denver Nuggets on Saturday, Sacramento’s offense is tough to slow down when they are locked in from beyond the arc.

After going 16-for-34 (47%) from three-point range against Denver, the Kings improved to 5-0 this season when shooting 40 percent or better from deep. Even when Sacramento shoots 35 percent or better, they’ve won eight of nine games.

New Orleans enters play with the NBA’s third-best three-point defense, with opponents shooting 33 percent from downtown thus far this season. During the Kings’ two losses in The Big Easy, they shot just 29 percent from deep as the Pelicans took Sacramento out of its comfort zone.

If the Kings want to punch their tickets for Las Vegas, they’ll have to overcome a tough Pelicans defense that has bothered players like Kevin Huerter, De’Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk, who all have shot under 30 percent from three against New Orleans in two prior meetings.

Who Will Stop Zion?

This is a question that all 29 teams ask themselves every night that Zion Williamson comes to town.

Sacramento has been unable to find an answer for the 6’6, 284-pound juggernaut, as Williamson enters play with career averages of 25.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game on 68 percent shooting from the field over six career matchups against the Kings’ defense.

In two meetings against the ‘Beam Team’ this year, the two-time All-Star has held true to his averages: 25.5 points on 22-of-32 (68%) shooting.

The Kings will likely throw double-teams at Williamson, but that will open up opportunities for sharpshooters like Brandon Ingram, C.J. McCollum, and Trey Murphy III.

If Sacramento has to roll the dice and throw the kitchen sink at Zion while letting New Orleans have some wiggle room on the perimeter, that’s a risk they might have to take.

The Pelicans enter play on Monday as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA, ranking 27th in made triples, 26th in attempts, and 22nd in three-point field goal percentage (35%).

Zion Williamson has destroyed the Kings since he arrived in the NBA, and if the Kings can’t figure out how to slow down the talented forward, they could be watching the In-Season Tournament semifinals from home.

NBA In-Season Tournament Bracket

Kings vs. Pelicans Injury Report

Sacramento

  • Chris Duarte – QUESTIONABLE (left knee soreness)
  • Alex Len – OUT (high right ankle sprain)

New Orleans

  • Larry Nance Jr. – OUT (right rib fracture)
  • Matt Ryan – OUT (right elbow soreness)

Upcoming Schedule

  • Monday, December 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 7:00 PM PST**
  • December 6th-10th: NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals & Finals (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
  • Thursday, December 14th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 16th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7:00 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Round

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