For two decades, the San Antonio Spurs have been the gold standard of the NBA. Monday night at the AT&T Center, they’ll need a win against a Sacramento Kings team that continues to put up a fight night in and night out.
Bogdan Boganovic, Justin Jackson and Willie Cauley-Stein all hit big shots in the final minute of the Kings one point win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. The Kings have won two of their last three games as they finish off the 2017-18 campaign on a strong note.
Tim Duncan is gone. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are bit players and Kawhi Leonard is on hiatus. And the Spurs still have an opportunity to extend their 20-year playoff streak. This isn’t a 60-win team like the last two seasons, but they are still dangerous.
Spurs by 13.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De’Aaron Fox vs. Patty Mills -- Fox went off for a career-best 26 points the last time these two teams faced off. It didn’t stop San Antonio from winning their 13th straight over the Kings. Mills has started the last 20 games for the Spurs as he takes over for Parker at the point. The 29-year-old Australian is lightning quick and he knows coach Gregg Popovich’s system well.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 26-54, fourth place in Pacific
Spurs: 46-34, third place in Southwest
Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (left ankle sprain), SG Garrett Temple (left ankle sprain), PG Frank Mason (sore left heel), SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab and plantar fasciitis) and PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) are out.
Spurs: SF Kawhi Leonard (shoulder) out.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Spoiler -- For one of the first time in 20 years, the Spurs have to fight their way into the playoffs in the final week of the season. San Antonio currently sit in a three way tie for the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings, but they hold a narrow one game lead over both the Timberwolves and Nuggets. One slip up and things change dramatically for the Spurs.
Let the standings take care of themselves -- When Bogdanovic drilled a jumper with one second remaining, the Kings moved into a tie with the Brooklyn Nets for the sixth worst record in the NBA. Brooklyn picked up their 27th win Saturday evening, moving into a tie with the Bulls for the seventh worst record in the league. Play the game and let the chips fall where they may.
Clutch -- The Kings continue to battle all the way down the stretch. They compete, but they also have a knack for hitting big shots. They are getting incredible late game experience on most nights, even if it doesn’t always equate to wins.
The Spurs are up 3-0 in the season series and currently own a 13-game win streak over the Kings. San Antonio holds an 90-39 lead during the Sacramento-era and a 119-55 advantage all-time.