SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings continue to play hard and compete down the stretch. They’ll face a Dallas Mavericks team that has dropped five straight and is limping to the finish.
Buddy Hield continued his strong finish to the season on Sunday afternoon, scoring 20 points or more for the fifth time in six games. The second-year reserve has hit 20-of-42 (47.6 percent) from behind the arc over the stretch and it earning more consideration from the coaching staff.
Dallas is having their worst season in 20 years. They are caught between being a veteran club and building for the future. They have some pieces to build around long term, but this is a complicated situation moving forward.
Kings by 2.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De’Aaron Fox vs. Dennis Smith Jr. -- Fox has struggled on the defensive end, yielding huge performances to players like Terry Rozier, Isaiah Taylor, Ish Smith and Quinn Cook over the last five games. With eight games remaining in the season, Fox needs to dig deep and find a way to keep his man from having a career night. Smith has struggled on the defensive end as well, but he is finishing strong on offense. The rookie point guard is posting 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per game in the month of March. This should be a great matchup to watch for the next decade in the Western Conference.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: SG/SF Garrett Temple (left ankle sprain) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.
Mavs: PG J.J. Barea (personal) out, G Seth Curry (leg) out for the season, SG Wes Matthews (leg) out, PF Dwight Powell (knee) questionable.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki -- The Hall of Fame awaits both of these aging stars. Between the two, they have 40 years of NBA experience, 21 All-Star game appearances and 55,969 regular season points. The former teammates are the two oldest players in the NBA. Carter checks in at 41-year-old, but Nowitzki isn’t far behind at 39.
Practice Carry-Over -- The Kings continue to practice hard and prepare for each game. While plenty of teams in the bottom half of the standings have given up on the season, Sacramento is finishing strong, going 6-7 over their previous 13 games.
Fight Through -- Plenty of the young Kings are running on fumes. You can see it in their body language and also in the stat line. An 82 game schedule is a learning experience. They need to push through the pain and fatigue.
The Kings lead the season series 2-1 against the Mavs, including two wins on the road at AmericanAirlines arena. Dallas hold a 93-68 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 76-56 lead during the Sacramento-era.