The Kings are rolling. After winning their third straight Friday night in Minnesota, Sacramento now sits at 13-17 on the season, a full game ahead of both the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets in the race for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
DeMarcus Cousins continues to maul opposing frontlines, but it’s been the bench that has made major strides during Sacramento’s current run. Ty Lawson, Anthony Tolliver, Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo and Willie Cauley-Stein have all made contributions as the Kings attempt to climb back towards the .500 mark on the season.
The Sixers continue to be a work in progress. They are loaded with young talent, but after a 1-4 mark over their last five, they sit at the bottom of the league in wins once again. Coach Brett Brown has a 54-221 record through three-plus seasons at the helm, but he’s consistently had a young and unproven roster to work with.
Kings by 8
MATCHUP TO WATCH
DeMarcus Cousins vs. Joel Embiid -- Cousins could be the matchup to watch every game, but this is a fun battle between the best offensive big in the NBA and a young center with incredible potential. Cousins is tearing through the league, posting 29.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Embiid sat out two seasons with health issues, but he’s dropping 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in just 24.5 minutes a night. Embiid is the early favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. Cousins should be All-Star bound for a third-straight season.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 13-17, third place in Pacific
76ers: 7-22, last place in Atlantic
Kings: G Arron Afflalo (right elbow sprain) questionable, F Rudy Gay (hip flexor strain) was listed as questionable, but will try to play according to Kings coach Dave Joerger.
76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (wrist) is out for the season, F Ben Simmons (foot) out, G Nik Stauskas (knee) questionable, PF Richaun Holmes (concussion) questionable.
This is the first of two matchups between these two teams this season after a bizarre cancellation in late November. Philadelphia holds a 162-124 advantage all-time over the Kings and a 31-29 lead during the Sacramento-era.
“I just think the team’s playing the right way, we’re all buying in. I think we’re starting to realize what it takes to win games. I think we’re doing a great job of playing together, moving the ball, getting everybody involved - guys are having fun right now.” -DeMarcus Cousins following the Kings’ win over Minnesota Friday evening