Kings’ remaining schedule unfortunately does not favor a late playoff push 

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

As the West is filled with even more star power and teams are finally largely healthy, the standings look much different than they did last season. Especially for the Kings, things have changed. 

They have pretty much the same team that carried them to their first playoff appearance in over a decade and a similar record. Rather than sitting comfortably in third place, headed for the postseason, the Kings are currently a play-in team. 

The other teams in the territory are the Mavericks, Lakers, and Warriors. Each of those three teams has future Hall of Famers, proven stars, and players with championship experience. That’s not an ideal group to face in single-elimination games. 

Ideally, the Kings would avoid the Play-In tournament altogether, string together some wins, and claim the sixth or fifth place. That’s a lot easier said than done, however. 

The Kings have the tenth-hardest remaining schedule

According to the NBA’s latest strength of schedule rankings, the Kings are tenth behind Western Conference teams in the Suns, Jazz, Lakers, Spurs, Trail Blazers, and Timberwolves. 

Western Conference teams with significantly easier schedules than the Kings are the Grizzlies, Rockets, Warriors, and Mavericks. The Warriors and Mavericks having some of the easier schedules remaining in the West, especially compared to the Kings, could be a problem. 

Both are chasing the same goal as Sacramento and at least Dallas might have a much easier road if healthy. The Warriors have some catching up to do first, and the Kings better do everything in their power to keep a safe distance between them and Stephen Curry and company. 

Out of all teams competing for playoff or play-in spots, Sacramento has the most home games left but they also still have to play the most back-to-backs with six. Besides, playing at home is not always an advantage. 

The Kings’ defensive rating is significantly worse at Golden 1 Center than on the road, and with the games they have left, they have to be locked in defensively. Their offensive rating is better at home than on the road, but relying on outscoring opponents night after night is a dangerous game to play without much of a defensive cushion to fall back on. 

The Kings still have to face some offensive powerhouses in Sacramento, like the Mavericks, the Clippers, the Bucks, the Suns, and the Pelicans. Every game counts, especially the ones the Kings are supposed to win. Sacramento cannot afford any more losses to the likes of San Antonio, Houston, Portland, or Memphis. 

Last night’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves was a great start, but we all know how inconsistent the Kings have been this season. They play great one night and then completely fall apart the next. The schedule is not in the Kings’ favor, so they have to prove that they can rise to the challenge consistently from now on to secure a playoff spot.

The Kings need their stars healthy and available 

De’Aaron Fox has been dealing with an ankle injury and shoulder pain almost all season long already. Now, he can also add a knee contusion to the list, which is a problem for the Kings. 

The team’s offense just isn’t the same without Fox. If he misses more time, the Kings might lose more games than they can allow unless others, like Domantas Sabonis,  Keegan Murray, or Malik Monk, step up in a big way.