Sacramento Kings fans always are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Call it Murphy’s Law, or maybe just Kangz.
For those who gathered around the television Friday night to watch the NBA restart schedule release show on ESPN, they again were reminded that the Kings aren't part of the national conversation. Sacramento showed up on the screen for a moment, but its schedule never did.
When the actual schedule showed up online, there was one glaring change from the league. While the order was different, the Kings’ first seven of eight opponents were the same as the next on the team’s original schedule. Game No. 8 was the only difference.
Instead of facing off with the Indiana Pacers, the Kings now draw LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the No. 1-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in their final game in Orlando.
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Sacramento is 0-2 against the Lakers this season, although one of those games ended up on the league’s Two-Minute report for an egregious error in the final five seconds that cost the Kings the game.
With the showdown coming so late in the restart, it might be a moot point for the Kings. They’ll likely need to go 5-3 at a minimum to make it to the play-in game, and that won’t be easy.
It’s also possible that the Lakers already will have clinched the top spot in the West by the time they face Sacramento. With the compacted season, Avery Bradley already choosing not to participate in the re-start and the risk for injury high, LA might not be 100 percent for the final game.
If the schedule went as planned with Indiana included, the Kings faced an opponent win percentage of .504. With the Lakers replacing the Pacers, that number jumps to .529.
The Lakers restart the season at 49-14, compared to the Pacers 39-26. Both are very good teams, but the Kings would prefer Indiana over LA anytime.
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Before the league went on hiatus, the Kings had two remaining games with the Lakers out of their final 18, but adding LeBron’s squad to the mix is odd. If any team was substituted in, you'd think it would be the Clippers, who were the next team on the schedule for Sacramento if you went past eight games.
The road ahead is difficult, but not impossible for the Kings. They have 17 healthy bodies on the roster, including Marvin Bagley, who has missed much of the season, as well as Corey Brewer, who was added earlier this week.
Sacramento wasn’t the only team to have a random swap out of an opponent. The Trail Blazers drew the Denver Nuggets over the Memphis Grizzlies, which pushed their opponents’ win percentage to .595.
The Raptors were added to the Grizzlies' schedule instead of a second game with the Pelicans, which pushed their opponent win percentage to .597.
Out of the four top teams vying for a playoff berth, the Pelicans were the only team to draw a lighter schedule. Instead of seeing the Grizzlies twice, they’ll get a game against the Washington Wizards, and their opponents’ win percentage is just .495.
In the end, the sample size of eight games really is too short to make any great opinion. Teams like the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs will have to play without major players who are out with injury. The Lakers, Blazers Wizards and Mavs all have players who decided not to join the festivities.
One or two of these teams will show up focused and ready to play. If the Kings are one of those teams, they’ll have a shot to make the play-in game. If not, it’s back to the drawing board and a focus on the draft, free agency and next season.