With the taste of defeat still fresh in their mouths, the Sacramento Kings face the Boston Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday.
Sacramento has lost five straight and are in desperate need of a win. They’ve lost their offensive mojo and look every bit the part of a newly assembled young club.
Despite a mostly new roster and a serious early season injury to Gordon Hayward, the Celtics sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. They are young, athletic and dangerous.
Celtics by 12.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De’Aaron Fox vs. Kyrie Irving -- Fox continues to shine despite the struggles of the team. He’s leading the Kings in scoring at 13.4 points per game and coming off an impressive 18-point, five-assist, four-rebound performance in Indy. Irving is posting big numbers since coming over in an offseason deal with the Cavs. Fox likely won’t start the game against the four-time All-Star, but he’ll play plenty of minutes as the game evolves.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 1-6, fifth place in Pacific
Celtics: 5-2, first place in Atlantic
Kings: PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.
Celtics: SF Gordon Hayward (ankle) out for season, F Marcus Morris (knee) questionable.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
A TRAIN OFF THE TRACKS -- Sacramento is lost in an early season slide and it doesn’t get any easier Wednesday evening in Boston. The Celtics are atop the Eastern Conference standings, despite the devastating injury to Gordon Hayward on opening night. The Kings need to find their offense quickly or risk falling for the sixth straight game.
CAN THE REAL GEORGE HILL PLEASE STAND UP -- Hill is a veteran coming off his best season in the NBA. So far in the 2017-18 campaign, he’s struggled in his new surroundings, averaging just 9.5 points, 2.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds. The Kings brought him in to show De’Aaron Fox the ropes and help solidify the backcourt. So far, Fox has far outshined his mentor.
ARE THE KINGS FINALLY RESTED? -- The decision has been made to rest veterans in each of the last two games and the available players haven’t responded well on the court. Sacramento’s scored 83 points in back-to-back games and they’ve been outscored by a combined 45 by the Wizards and Pacers. Balancing the development of young players while putting a quality product on the floor was never going to be easy, but avoiding a culture of losing is paramount.
These two teams split the season series last year 1-1, with Sacramento coming away with a 108-92 victory at Golden 1 Center in February. Boston holds a 181-118 all-time lead over the Kings and a 36-26 advantage during the Sacramento-era. The Kings have lost nine straight in Boston, spanning back to January of 2007.