3 Keys to extending the Kings’ win streak tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers

Sacramento Kings v Cleveland Cavaliers
Sacramento Kings v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The Kings had to face adversity early on this season. Shots aren’t falling, De’Aaron Fox twisted his ankle, and Trey Lyles hasn’t been able to make his season debut yet. 

All this led to a heartbreaking loss to a Klay Thompson game-winner and two outright embarrassing games against the Houston Rockets. The Kings were going down the wrong road, so Coach Mike Brown had to make some tough decisions. 

Lineup changes and a better mindset led to a gritty overtime win against the Trail Blazers as well as a first In-Season Tournament victory behind strong play from Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, and Keegan Murray. 

In the latter win, the team finally played Kings basketball again, which was a welcome sight after all the early struggles. Now, the challenge is to keep that momentum going and extend the win streak, with or without Fox. 

This week won’t be easy, however. It starts off with a matchup against the Cavaliers tonight, followed by the Lakers on Wednesday, an In-Season Tournament game against the Spurs on Friday, and a visit to Dallas on Sunday. 

None of these games is a sure win, but the Cavaliers and their size create a unique challenge for a team as small as the Kings. So, let’s look at three keys to extend the Kings’ win streak tonight. 

3. Push the pace

Last season, the Kings were one of the fastest teams in the league. When it came to pace, they ranked twelfth in the league, comfortably ahead of more than half the NBA. They still have the same guys that were so essential to their quick style of play.

Yes, De’Aaron Fox, one of the fastest players in the league, is still doubtful, but that shouldn’t matter. Everyone else can push the pace as well, which is crucial against the Cavaliers. 

Last season, they were the slowest team in the league and they have improved since then, but the Kings can still make them uncomfortable by playing fast. This is something they haven’t been able to do consistently this season. 

After two slugfests against the Rockets, they currently rank 24th in pace. That is not a true representation of who the Kings are, however, and they already looked much different against the Thunder on Friday. 

It is time that the Kings rediscover that part of their game to outrun the Cavaliers and their long arms. Once the Cavs get a chance to get set on either end of the floor, they are a huge problem. 

So, the Kings need to disrupt their flow and make them play at their pace—not the pace we’ve seen so far this season, but the pace we know the Kings are capable of playing at.