Western Conference Standings Update: Kings fall from top six

Feb 27, 2024, 9:29 AM

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 03: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings talks with referee Michael...

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Western Conference playoff race will look like a game of musical chairs over the next six weeks.

Following Monday’s disappointing loss to a severely shorthanded Miami Heat team, the Sacramento Kings have fallen from the fifth spot in the West standings to seventh as the rollercoaster road to the postseason continues.

With 25 games remaining on Sacramento’s regular season schedule, the margin for error is slim to none, especially when you factor in the inexplicable losses that the Kings have suffered this season:

  • Losing to the Charlotte Hornets–who were missing multiple starters– at Golden 1 Center.
  • Losing to the NBA-worst Detroit Pistons at Golden 1 Center
  • Losing to the Portland Trail Blazers
  • Blowing a 22-point fourth-quarter lead to the Phoenix Suns
  • Letting a four-point lead with 16 seconds slip away in Milwaukee
  • And on Monday, losing to the Heat who were without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Terry Rozier, and more.

On the heels of Sacramento’s latest head-scratching loss, let’s look at where things stand in the Playoff race.

Western Conference Standings

Unlike last season, a respectable record won’t be enough to secure home-court advantage in the Western Conference.

At this time last year, the Kings held a 35-25 record while sitting in the third spot in the West and holding a three-game lead over the fourth-seed Phoenix Suns. The road to the playoffs will be much more unforgiving in 2023-24, as several teams are currently in the mix for top-six spots.

Entering play on Tuesday, Sacramento is nearly gridlocked with three other teams in the standings–the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, and Dallas Mavericks.

With the top-four seeds holding a respectable lead over those in the hunt for the fifth and sixth spots, it’s likely that two of the Kings, Suns, Pelicans, and Mavericks will be in the Play-In, while the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors lurk in the rearview just a handful of games behind the race for a playoff spot.

Each remaining game comes with increased implications, and the road ahead for each team looks different according to Tankathon’s Strength of Schedule indicator:

The good news for Sacramento is that Phoenix, who sits just a half-game ahead of them in the standings, has the most challenging remaining schedule in the NBA. On April 12th, the Kings and Suns will play a game determining the regular season tie-breaker when the two teams meet at Golden 1 Center.

Golden State, who went through a buzzsaw of a start to the regular season schedule, has the second-easiest final stretch in the West as they will look to climb from tenth in the standings into a playoff spot.

Sacramento’s schedule will get easier (on paper) following this week’s tough road trip that will see matchups against Denver and Minnesota on the road. Following those two games, the Kings’ next four opponents–the Bulls, Lakers, Spurs, and Rockets–possess a combined winning percentage of .407.

“Easier” opponents don’t exist for Sacramento, as they have proven they can beat the best of the best and lose to the worst of the worst. We won’t know what version of the Kings we’ll be seeing until the games get underway, but there is no question that this group has the talent to make some noise down the final stretch.

Unlike last year, there won’t be any coasting to the first round. Sacramento will have to earn it, and they will face each of the teams around them in the standings–Dallas, Phoenix, and New Orleans–in the coming weeks.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will embark on a brief–but challenging–two-game road trip that will begin on Wednesday night in Denver, where they will face the reigning champion Nuggets for the final time this regular season.

The Kings will seek its first four-game season series sweep of Denver since the 2002-03 season after winning the first three matchups, most recently on February 14th when De’Aaron Fox’s 15-point fourth quarter completed a 102-98 comeback win at Ball Arena.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Nuggets coverage, beginning at 4:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 6:00 PM PST tip-off from ‘The Mile High City.’

YouTube video

Upcoming Schedule

  • Wednesday, February 28th – Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets – 6:00 PM PST
  • Friday, March 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves – 5:00 PM PST
  • 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

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Western Conference Standings Update: Kings fall from top six