SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Kings seek 8th seed clarity against motivated Suns

Apr 12, 2024, 8:45 AM

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JANUARY 16: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball agains...

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

An unideal stretch for the Sacramento Kings could become even more problematic with another losing effort on Friday night.

On the heels of two heartbreaking losses in Boston and Oklahoma City, the Kings dropped another contest to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.

The loss—Sacramento’s fifth out of five head-to-head matchups against the Pelicans this season—eliminated the Kings from sixth-seed contention and dropped them into a three-way tie for the eighth seed.

Considering that Sacramento (45-35) holds the tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, the task is straightforward: Win both remaining games, claim the eighth seed, and avoid the single-elimination ninth vs. tenth seed game.

Standing in the Kings’ way on Friday night will be the Phoenix Suns (47-33), who are also hoping to avoid the uncertainties of the Play-In Tournament.

Phoenix would be eliminated from sixth-seed contention with a Suns loss and a Pelicans win, meaning that Sacramento will face a motivated (and rested) team to complete their back-to-back.

Things might seem bleak around the Beam Team at the moment, but a win over the Suns would all but ensure the eighth seed when you factor in the tiebreakers.

Can Sacramento rise to the challenge and show up in its most important game of the year?

Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix Suns Game Info

When: 7:30 PM PST

Where: Golden 1 Center  – Sacramento, CA

TV: NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 6:00 PM on Game Night

Line: Suns -5.5, O/U 233.5

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Suns coverage, beginning at 6:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:30 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Leveling The Playing Field

The Kings have been dominated by the New Orleans Pelicans this season–and that’s not an exaggeration.

Over five head-to-head matchups against the Pelicans, Sacramento went 0-5 while being outscored by an average of 19.2 points per contest. Even during Thursday’s matchup, the Kings nearly immediately found themselves in a 23-point hold before the end of the opening period.

This is not to say that Phoenix won’t be a challenge, but Sacramento has had far more competitive showings against the Suns this season.

Both teams enter play on Friday tied at 2-2 in the head-to-head series this season, meaning that this fifth matchup will act as a tie-breaker in the chance that Phoenix loses its final two games and the Kings win out.

Sacramento has outscored the Suns by an average of four points during their four matchups, although Phoenix has claimed the past two meetings after initially falling into a 0-2 hole.

YouTube video

The past two meetings between these teams–both in Phoenix–came down to the wire.

On January 16th, the Kings watched a 22-point lead slip through their fingers during the final eight minutes of regulation as a late charge from Kevin Durant and the Suns stunned Sacramento en route to a 109-107 thriller.

One month later on February 23rd, Sacramento fell short in a back-and-forth affair that came down to the final possessions of the game–another ending that had Durant and Devin Booker’s fingerprints all over it.

The Kings have fared well on offense against the Suns, shooting 50 percent from the field and nearly 36 percent from three-point range. From a matchup standpoint–on paper–they should be in a better place than against a Pelicans team that has coasted to wins in five matchups.

As Stathead shows, Kings vs. Suns has been close across the board this season:

Domas’ Chance At Redemption

Domantas Sabonis is closing in on the completion of a statistical season that the NBA has only seen from the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Nikola Jokic, yet the big man has more to prove during these crucial games.

Sabonis’ rebounding and play-making have continued to impress, but the All-NBA center’s offense has taken a dive during the final weeks of the regular season.

Over his past ten games, Sabonis is averaging 15.2 points per game (4.2 below his season average) on 48 percent shooting from the field (11 percent below his season mark of 59 percent).

Opposing defenses have doubled, or in some cases, triple-teamed Sabonis as soon as he gets the ball on the block, forcing the center to kick it back out to the perimeter or be forced into a tough field goal attempt.

Sabonis hasn’t been the same on offense during this Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter-less stretch, although a matchup against the Suns could reignite the big man on Friday night.

Over four meetings with Phoenix this season, Sabonis has put up video game numbers:

24.8 PTS | 14.5 REB | 10.0 AST | 69% FG | 1.0 BLK | 148 OFF rtg (highest vs. any team he has faced min. 3 times)

Sacramento has been reliant on three-point shooting as of late, but putting an emphasis on the paint would be a wise plan of attack as Sabonis looks to continue his impressive play against the Suns’ interior defense.

The three-time All-Star has scored 20+ points in just one of his past ten games. Sabonis is due–and the Kings could really use a big performance out of their franchise center.

Notes

  • A Kings loss, paired with a Lakers win over Memphis and a Warriors win over New Orleans, would drop Sacramento to the 10th seed.
  • De’Aaron Fox has been a force against Phoenix this season: 32.5 PTS | 5.3 REB | 6.5 AST | 2.2 STL (4 games)

Kings vs. Suns Injury Report

Sacramento

The rest of the injury report will be released at 1:30 PM PST

  • Malik Monk – OUT (Right knee sprain)
  • Kevin Huerter – OUT (left shoulder dislocation)

Phoenix

  • Damion Lee – OUT (knee)

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, April 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix Suns – 7:30 PM PST
  • Sunday, April 14th – Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 12:30 PM PST (End of regular season)

Postseason Schedule

  • Tuesday, April 16th-Friday, April 19th – NBA Play-In Tournament (Teams & matchups TBD)
  • Saturday, April 20th – NBA Playoffs begin

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