SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Looking to remain in playoff mix, Kings face Pelicans

Apr 11, 2024, 9:40 AM | Updated: 9:43 am

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings is fouled on a drive ...

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The NBA Playoff chase could come to an end for the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, making the NBA Play-In Tournament a reality.

With just three games remaining and a two-game gap between themselves and the sixth seed, Sacramento (45-34) will need to string together a winning streak if they want to secure an automatic playoff bid.

Standing in the Kings’ way are the sixth-seed New Orleans Pelicans themselves, who can eliminate Sacramento from the playoff race with a win at Golden 1 Center on Thursday night.

New Orleans (47-32) has dominated the Kings this season, defeating Sacramento in all four head-to-head matchups this season by an average of 21 points, including a 133-100 drubbing during the most recent meeting between the two teams on January 7th.

Both Western Conference postseason contenders will be without critical pieces on Thursday, but the high stakes remain as the Kings look to keep their hopes for the sixth seed alive.

YouTube video

Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game Info

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 -1.5, O/U 216.5

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.

Can The Kings’ Offense Break Through?

New Orleans owns the NBA’s fourth-best defensive rating (114.2) and is ranked eighth in points allowed per game (110.4). In four matchups against the Kings this season, those defensive numbers have looked even more impressive.

Sacramento’s offense hasn’t been able to find a rhythm against the Pelicans’ tough defense, as the Kings have averaged 105.5 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from three-point range over four head-to-head meetings this season.

Three-point defense has been a strength for New Orleans this season, as the Pelicans have held opponents to 34.8 percent shooting from deep–the best mark in the NBA.

There has been a clear trend in Sacramento’s wins this season: Three-point shooting. When shots fall, wins typically follow. When they don’t, things go the other way.

During the Kings’ loss in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Sacramento started the game off by knocking down 14 of their 31 (45%) attempts from three-point range during the first half. That success wouldn’t carry over into the second half, as the Kings finished the night six-of-27 (22%) over the final two quarters to end the night at 34 percent from deep.

In games that Sacramento shoots 35 percent or better from three, they hold a record of 32-11 (.744). When finishing under that 35-percent mark, they hold a record of 13-23 (.361).

Over their past six games, the Pelicans have allowed opponents to shoot nearly 38 percent from three-point land, meaning that the Kings could be catching New Orleans at the right time as they hope to find the bottom of the net from beyond the arc.

Ignite Fox

The importance of De’Aaron Fox to the Sacramento Kings has only increased in light of Malik Monk’s injury, and the guard is due for a breakout performance against a Pelicans defense that has held him in check this season.

Fox, who is currently the NBA’s ninth-leading scorer this season (26.6 points), has not found success against New Orleans over four matchups:

18.2 PTS | 2.7 REB | 3.2 AST | 0.7 STL | 35% FG | 20% 3PT | 0-4 record

If Sacramento is to have a chance on Thursday, they will need to see a lot more out of Fox, who has averaged 30.5 points on 37 percent shooting from deep over his past four games.

Fox can’t carry the entire Kings offense, but an 18-point average on 35/20/70 shooting splits against the Pelicans is beyond uncharacteristic from the All-NBA guard.

Could the fifth meeting with New Orleans be the charm for Fox, or will his struggles continue?

Sabonis & The Glass

Domantas Sabonis is on the verge of securing his second-straight rebounding title, but the center hasn’t found success against the Pelicans in that department this season.

Sabonis, who leads the NBA with 13.8 rebounds per game, has averaged 10.5 rebounds over four meetings with New Orleans this season. During Sacramento’s four losses to the Pelicans, the Kings have been out-rebounded by 14.7 rebounds–a trend that can’t continue on Thursday.

Not only will Sacramento need to see more offensive aggression from Sabonis, who has struggled to a 46 percent showing from the field over his past eight games, but they will also need the big man to be at the top of his game on the glass.

Now that Sabonis’ 61-game double-double streak has come to an end, the All-NBA center will look to begin a new streak against a tough Pelicans frontline that includes fellow Lithuanian center Jonas Valančiūnas and former first-overall pick Zion Williamson.

If Sabonis can hold his own on the boards and stay out of foul trouble, it will only help Sacramento’s chances of coming out in front on a night they really need a win.

Notes

  • A Kings loss locks Sacramento into a Play-In spot.
  • If the Kings win, they will be one game behind the Pelicans with two games remaining.
  • New Orleans owns the tie-breaker over Sacramento.

Kings vs. Pelicans Injury Report

Sacramento

  • Keegan Murray – QUESTIONABLE (left calf soreness)
  • Malik Monk – OUT (Right knee sprain)
  • Kevin Huerter – OUT (left shoulder dislocation)
  • Jordan Ford – OUT (G-League)

New Orleans

  • Naji Marshall – QUESTIONABLE (left shoulder contusion)
  • Brandon Ingram – OUT (left knee bone contusion)

Upcoming Schedule

  • Thursday, April 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, April 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix Suns – 7:00 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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