Sitting at 6-3 and riding a five game win streak, the Sacramento Kings will travel to Milwaukee to take on the East-leading Bucks.
Here it is everyone, the first real test for the Sacramento Kings on this early season road trip. So far, they’ve faced faced the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks on this road-trip and while they’ve won every game, those three teams combined have as many wins as the 7-1 Milwaukee Bucks.
So, can the Sacramento Kings continue the win-streak? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean they have no shot. The Kings have won because they play at a pace most teams can’t match (2nd in NBA), but the Bucks can. Milwaukee sits at 6th in the NBA in pace and while the Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks both rank top-5, neither of those teams have a Giannis Antetokuonmpo.
Another team ranked top-5 in pace is the New Orleans Pelicans and we all know what happened to the Kings in NOLA. If you don’t, it, uh, wasn’t great. That seems like the formula to beat this Sacramento Kings team: match their pace and have an All-Star capable of taking over a game.
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For New Orleans it was Anthony Davis (and Nikola Mirotic) and a Pels team that ranks 3rd in the NBA in pace. The Jazz have Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and the 12th fastest pace. If that trend holds, the Bucks with Giannis and Khris Middleton who rank 6th in pace should be able to grab a win against this upstart Kings team. It doesn’t look good for Sacramento but the Kings have knocked off Russell Westbrook’s 7th ranked Thunder and John Wall’s 5th ranked Wizards, so it’s certainly possible the Kings pick up a win in Wisconsin.
Of course to do that, they’re going to need some things to go right for them. The first of which is easily the most important and that’s slowing down the aptly named Greek-Freak.
The Kings aren’t going to stop Giannis from getting his and they don’t even have somebody to truly lock him down, but if they can slow him a bit and keep him from matching his usual efficiency (52.5 percent EFG%) they might have a shot.
Knocking Antetokuonmpo off his game isn’t the only part of the equation for a Kings win, however. The Bucks have a trio of efficient scorers averaging over 10 points per game in Khris Middleton (20.1ppg, 61 EFG%), Eric Bledsoe (13.1ppg, 52.9 EFG%) and Brook Lopez (11.1ppg, 58.1 EFG%) who has quietly been a <a href=”http://Brook Lopez (11.1ppg, 58.1 EFG%)”>fantastic signing for the Bucks. This, in turn, means the Kings will need their top players to match or better their opponents offensive output.
Specifically, they’ll need Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox to play at a level near what they did against the Hawks when they combined for 58 points, 15 rebounds and 21 assists. Essentially, they’ll need all hands on deck.
Nemanja Bjelica and Willie Cauley-Stein certainly needs to keep up their phenomenal play early season play and anything they can get from Iman Shumpert and the reserves would go a long way towards a win in this one.
The Kings and Bucks are 4th and 5th in the league in points per game, respectively and both are also top-10 in offensive efficiency so it’s a closer game on paper than you would think. Defensively, however, these teams couldn’t be further apart. While Sacramento is a respectable 16th in team defensive efficiency, the Bucks are 2nd. Because of this, I think the winning streak stops in Milwaukee.
Final: Sacramento Kings 98, Milwaukee Bucks 111