Is Zion Williamson playing tonight? Latest injury update for Kings vs. Pelicans Play-In game

New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings
New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Finishing the regular season in ninth place in the West, the Kings were not in the best position to make the playoffs. Having to win two Play-In Tournament games is not an easy thing to do but the Kings demolished the Warriors and are now going to New Orleans for a final chance to secure a playoff spot. 

New Orleans has been a nightmare matchup for the Kings all season long, sweeping Sacramento 5-0 in the regular season series. Their size and physicality bother the Kings. The starting lineup cannot deal with the pairing of Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas at the four and the five. 

Williamson just had a great game against the Lakers, almost carrying his team to a win, but had to leave the game late with an injury. 

Is Zion Williamson playing tonight?

For this final Play-In Tournament game in the West, Williamson’s availability has huge implications. Fortunately for the Kings, Williamson has already been ruled out with a left hamstring strain. 

Sacramento will still be without Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter, while the Pelicans are otherwise healthy. Brandon Ingram just came back from a lengthy absence and is now good to go again. 

What does this mean for the Kings?

Not having to face Williamson is a huge relief for the Kings, as they just don’t have the size to deal with him, Valanciunas, and Ingram on the court at the same time. They have tried putting Domantas Sabonis on Williamson recently, but that left Harrison Barnes in a cruel mismatch with Valanciunas. One option to address this issue would have been to start both Sabonis and Alex Len or maybe give Trey Lyles a shot at Williamson. 

While Williamson’s absence makes the game easier for the Kings, it does not make it easy. Valanciunas is still a problem in the paint, CJ McCollum usually plays incredibly well against the Kings, and Ingram is a problem as well. The only King who stands a chance against his size is Keegan Murray. 

So, New Orleans is still a difficult matchup, and the Kings have to go out and play their best basketball to beat them. The defense has been tight and physical, and youngsters Keegan Murray and Keon Ellis have to be as active offensively as they were against the Warriors. 

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