After an abysmal end of December and beginning of January, the Sacramento Kings are starting to figure things out. Is it too little, too late?
The Sacramento Kings were victorious yet again on Friday evening, defeating the visiting Miami Heat 105-97 and avenging their heartbreaking overtime loss in South Beach last month. The injury to Jimmy Butler coupled with trade deadline movement caused the Heat to play with a thin roster, but the Kings will take wins any way that they can get them at this point.
After an abysmal stretch around the holidays in which Sacramento lost 15 of 18 games, they have now won 5 of their last 7, including an unlikely 21-point victory over the LA Clippers on January 30th.
One of the easiest causes to identify for the team’s recent success is the starting lineup switch between Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield. The change took place two weeks ago, and both players have benefitted. Numbers are up for Bogdanovic, and Hield has been far more efficient. There are other players who have benefitted from the change as well, including De’Aaron Fox.
The Kings are certainly not eliminated from playoff contention, and every victory instills a dash of hope to the fanbase that the team can perform a miracle turnaround this spring. But is the hole that Sacramento has dug itself could be insurmountable, and these Kings’ victories are likely too little, too late.
Too Little? Too Late?
After Friday’s action, the Kings are still 11 games under .500 and currently own the third-worst record in the Western Conference. Despite being just 5.5 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot, there are five teams that are between Sacramento and the postseason.
The Grizzlies have been one of the biggest surprises so far this season, and are currently the idol team in that 8th spot. Nipping at their heels are the Trail Blazers, whose star player is putting up historic numbers after a slow start to the season. The Pelicans are a game up on Sacramento and will likely only get better as they integrate Zion Williamson in to the rotation more and more. Then there are the Spurs, who haven’t missed the playoffs since Bill Clinton was President. The Suns are there too.
So not only do the Kings have to win nearly two-thirds of their remaining games, but they need all of the other teams to falter as well. It is possible, yes. But extremely unlikely.
The schedule will not help, either. The teams they have left to play in February are San Antonio, Milwaukee, Dallas, Memphis (x2), LA Clippers, Golden State, and Oklahoma City. Six of the eight games will be played on the road. The games against San Antonio, Memphis, and Oklahoma City will have huge implications on playoff positioning. Losses in any of those games would put a serious damper on Sacramento’s hopes.
Their next test will be tonight on the second game of a back to back against the Spurs.