The Kings have to play their best basketball from now on, as they are “fighting for their lives”

San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings
San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Kings came out of the All-Star Break, got a win over the Spurs, and lit the beam. It was an important win, but they still have lots of work to do if they want to go to the playoffs. 

This is not a championship-or-bust season for Sacramento but an important step in the team’s development. The Kings’ aspirations of eventually contending for a championship are no secret and getting there will be quite the journey. Right now, a number of key players only have seven playoff games under their belts. 

That is not enough. So, even if they don’t win much in the postseason this time around, the experience will be crucial for later playoff runs. 

The Kings beat the Spurs, but, as Mike Brown put it after the game, “it wasn’t pretty at all.” Offensively, it wasn’t bad. Domantas Sabonis recorded a triple-double, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Kevin Huerter all scored over twenty points, and Keegan Murray chipped in 16 points. 

Defensively, it was not their best showing, however, especially on the perimeter. They just could not stop Davion Vassell, who scored 32 points on 13-18 shooting, and they were regularly beaten on back-door cuts. A lack of three-point defense has particularly hurt the Kings this season and did again Thursday night. 

The Spurs are dead last in three-point shooting for the season, shooting only 34 percent. Against the Kings, they shot 44 percent, and this was not the first time a team shot drastically better against the Kings than they normally do. 

The Kings have to play their best basketball now

Sitting in seventh place in the West, the Kings are currently a Play-In team. Other teams in that territory are the Suns, the Lakers, and the Warriors. Facing Kevin Durant, LeBron James, or Stephen Curry in a single-elimination game is a scary sight and the Kings would love to avoid it. 

Getting to the sixth seed and a secured playoff spot won’t be easy, though. From now on, the Kings’ schedule will be incredibly tough. Over the next four games, they will have to deal with the Clippers, the Nuggets, and the Timberwolves—three of the four top teams in the West. 

After that, they still have games against the Bucks, the Knicks, the Mavericks, the Clippers, the Celtics, the Thunder, and the Pelicans left. Wins won’t come easy, but the Kings need them to go to the playoffs, which means that they cannot afford to have opponents go wild on the perimeter without any resistance. 

Plus, the two teams behind them in the standings—the Warriors, the Suns, and the Lakers—desperately do not want to miss the postseason, so the Kings need to find a way to separate themselves. 

“We have to perform at a high level…just to get to the playoffs. We’re fighting for our lives right now,” Mike Brown said after Thursday’s game, perfectly encapsulating the situation. 

He also added, “It’s great…You need experience in order to grow, and sometimes you need adversity in order to grow.” The Kings certainly are facing adversity this season. Let’s just hope they are ready for it and do not fall apart under the pressure and ruin their playoff chances.