On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics came to Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back without Jayson Tatum and Al Horford and taught the Kings a valuable lesson. Great teams never slow down. The Kings have not mastered that quite yet and the Celtics punished them for it.
After the game, Kevin O’Connor, who already angered Kings fans with his negative comments about Domantas Sabonis earlier this season, tweeted that “the Celtics have broken the Kings” and it is a “bad sign to lose like this to Boston.” Once again, he attracted Kings fans’ and reporters’ scorn, making it almost impossible to not comment on this.
Some of his points are legit. It was an ugly loss, one of several this season, and the Kings are not title contenders yet, but overall, his comments just seem like a misconception of what this squad is.
The Kings are still building
It is incredibly difficult to go from sitting at the bottom of the league for years to being a playoff team. The Kings just made that jump last season. After years of losing, they are finally a good regular-season team that can go to the playoffs.
That was the first step on a long road to bigger success. Yes, the Kings want to compete for a championship but this team is not a finished product yet. If they want to do that, they need to make some more moves.
That is clear to everyone who regularly watches the Kings play, but they can’t trade for the missing piece, snap their fingers, and compete for a championship. Keegan Murray needs a chance to develop, De’Aaron Fox needs to learn what it means to be one of the best guards in the league, and both need playoff experience.
Right now, the Kings are laying the foundation for future contention while the Celtics are already a fully formed title contender tied for the best record in the league. The team they are tied with is Minnesota, which has the league’s best defense but could not stop the Kings so far.
Only three teams are ahead of the Kings in the Western Conference standings—the Timberwolves, the Thunder, and the Nuggets—and Sacramento has not lost to any of them yet.
Of course, there is still a lot of work to do. The Kings need to become a better defensive team, they need to get used to physicality, they need to be focused every night, and sometimes they just need to fight more.
Saying that they have been broken after being dominated by a team that should beat them, is not fair, however. Plus, the comments would seem more credible if O’Connor also acknowledged some of the Kings’ good moments this season.
Fox is averaging 30 points per game, Murray is growing into a real two-way player, Sabonis is a walking double-double, Malik Monk is a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and the Kings are a top seed in the West. All of this was completely disregarded.
Losing to the best team in the league by 25 points is disappointing but also no real surprise, and certainly doesn’t mean that the Celtics have broken the Kings. They were simply the better team all over the court. They have also been a contender for several seasons now, while the Kings just made the playoffs for the first time in 16 years. This was a learning experience.