The NBA grind continues for the Sacramento Kings Monday evening in Oklahoma City, where they’ll face the playoff bound Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back.
Sacramento is coming of a drubbing at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. They fell behind early and then got ran over in the third quarter. Buddy Hield led a group of six Kings players that scored in double-figures, but this was one of the worst performances of the year by Sacramento.
OKC comes into Monday in a virtual three-way tie with Minnesota and New Orleans for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. They tout three star level players, but they haven’t found consistent chemistry this season. The loss of role player Andre Roberson has also hurt the Thunder.
Thunder by 12.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De’Aaron Fox vs. Russell Westbrook -- Fox returned to action Sunday after missing a game with a strained lower back. He’ll draw his favorite NBA player growing up, that also happens to be the reigning MVP. Westbrook isn’t averaging a triple-double this season like last year, but he’s close. The All-Star point guard comes in at 25.3 points, 10.1 assists and 9.6 rebounds. He still has time to get that rebounding number up, but wins are much more important for the Thunder as they roll towards the finish line.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 21-46, fourth place in Pacific
Thunder: 39-29, second place in Northwest
Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (hip) and SG/SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) are out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.
Thunder: SG Terrance Ferguson (head) questionable ,SG Andre Roberson (knee) out for the season.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Better Showing -- The Kings were lambasted by the Nuggets on Sunday and need to show better effort during the final 15 games of the season. They allowed Denver to attack the rim at will and when they made an adjustment, the Nuggets buried them with the 3-ball.
Fight Through the Fatigue -- It’s clear that some of the young players are running out of gas. De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere have missed time due to injury over the last few games and rookie Bogdanovic has shot just 5-for-22 from the field over his last three starts. Sacramento needs to find one last kick to finish the season on a high note.
Stay Together -- The Kings have done a nice job of staying positive through the losing. From the locker room to the practice floor, this group is still working as one unit. The schedule is only going to get more difficult this week and the culture of the team will be tested.
The Kings shocked OKC in early November, but the Thunder have won the last two matchups, including a heartbreaker at the buzzer in late February. Oklahoma City hold a 144-86 all-time lead over the Kings and an 87-50 advantage in the Sacramento-era.