With 26 games remaining on the schedule, the Sacramento Kings are clinging to their last, small sliver of playoff hope for the 2019-’20 season.
The Sacramento Kings have been riding the wave of playoff possibility throughout the season, and it seems as though we might be on our last crest. The team has won 8 of their last 12 games after going 3-15 over their previous 18, thanks in large part to a few tweaks to the roster and rotation. Us fans have considered the team to be all but mathematically eliminated on multiple occasions, but there seems to be a teeny, tiny sliver of hope left as we head in to the final week of February.
The Kings were 15-29 on January 22nd and 5.5 games behind the Spurs for the 8th and final playoff spot. After victories over teams like the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Clippers(x2) over the last month, Sacramento has improved to 23-33, yet are still a full five games out.
While the prospect of making up those five games with 26 remaining is highly unlikely, the Kings could sneak in if everything breaks perfectly.
How The Kings Could Sneak In
The Kings have the 7th softest schedule of any team down the stretch, with an opponents winning percentage of .480. They still have to play both the Warriors and Cavaliers twice, as well as one last matchup with the Timberwolves and Hawks. Of Sacramento’s next five opponents, only the Thunder have a winning record.
The apparent soft spot in the Kings schedule matches up nicely with a tough stretch for the idol Grizzlies. Memphis will take on the Clippers, Rockets, Kings, and Lakers over their next four games, giving the handful of teams nipping at their heels a chance to make up some ground.
Speaking of the other teams involved, they will likely be the reason that the Kings are left out of the post season for the 14th consecutive season. Standing between Sacramento and the 8th spot is not only the Grizzlies, but Pelicans, Spurs, and Blazers as well. Of the four teams on the outside looking in, it seems like the Kings have the least going for them; Zion Williamson is still being integrated in to the Pelicans system, the Blazers are expecting Damian Lillard back soon, and the Spurs haven’t missed the playoffs since the first year of Bill Clinton’s second term.
The teams giving chase all have softer schedules down the stretch as well.
Every game from here on out is essentially a must-win for Sacramento, whose chances will be infinitely smaller with each passing loss. Projections by FiveThirtyEight give the Kings a 5% chance of making the postseason, the lowest of any of the teams vying for a spot in the Western Conference.
While it would take a near-miracle for the Kings to finally qualify for the big dance, it is likely that we will be riding the playoff possibility wave in to early March, and hopefully even longer than that.