A look at the Kings schedule and the first 12 games set up as a very easy start to the season, in fact it is historically easy. If the Kings are going to be a serious playoff contender or at least take a big step forward this season, as many fans around here are anticipating, the Kings MUST finish the first 12 games with at least 8 wins.
Dont let a 6-6 start or even 7-5 fool you as a success, in my opinion that would be a big time failure. Removing the Cavs (for obvious reasons) the Kings play 2, count em 2 playoff teams from last year in the first 12. That is 17 percent compared to the complete season where 54 percent of teams are playoff teams. On top of that the Kings start with 8 out of 12 games at home, which is a blessing considering how terrible they have been on the road the previous 4-5 seasons.
Going even a step further with the first 12, the Kings play 5 games vs teams who lost a key piece or two and should be still finding themselves in the first month of the season. The Cavs (Lebron), Raptors (Bosh), Suns (Amare), and the TWolves twice (Jefferson) will all be a work in progress. Only the Knicks with adding Stoudamire and the Hornets who get Chris Paul back from injury should be improved from last year.
A look at the schedule...
Opening at Minnesota, New Jersey and Cleveland ( 2nd game of back to back)
The Kings have to finish this stretch 2-1. Minnesota is a road season opener but this is a must win. The TWolves may be the worst team in the NBA this year. Then to NJ with a day off, this is also a very winable game. The Nets can only go up this year and they did whip the Kings in NJ last year, but they are not much improved and Cousins will make a much bigger impact than Favors. Cleveland is a wild card this year. Who knows if the fans will be as rowdy without Lebron and they will still have a big home court advantage? Will the supporting cast crumble without LBJ or will they step up to bigger roles? I dont think the Cavs are a playoff team this year, but its a back to back road game and The Q is tough, so we'll see.
Should go 3-1 here. Toronto without Bosh and Hedo should be one of worst 3 teams in NBA. And all the way on west coast, Kings will be huge favorites. Then the Lakers is most likely a loss, although Sac plays them tough and Kobe is dinged up, its a tall task and Kings are 2-10? vs LAL last 3 years. Memphis is a coin flip game, they are a good team, but at home we have to win this game to take a step forward. Then Minnesota is an easy must win.
1 road game to Phoenix
Usually the Kings give up 130 in the desert and get run out of Phoenix. But who knows about the Suns this year. Amare is gone and Nash and Hill are a year older. Sac has a day off before and after the game, so I wont rule out a win here, but it will be tough for sure.
4 home games vs Pistons, Knicks, Nets, Hornets
The Kings should go 3-1 or 4-0 in this stretch. The Pistons and Nets should be locks. Both teams are bad on the road and traveling to the west coast. Neither team made a big improvement in the off season and are very beatable. The Knicks added Amare and Felton but still wont play any D and dont play well on the west coast. New Orleans is the toughest test of this stretch. The lost Paul last year but still finished way ahead of the Kings. Now with Paul back will they still be superior or have the Kings closed the gap. Playing at home Sacramento should have the edge.
In Summary- Giving one loss on the opening 3 game trip, one to the Lakers, at Phoenix and 1 other slip up at home (my guess is Memphis or New Orleans). I think worst case Sacramento comes out of the first 12 with an 8-4 record. The schedule gets much tougher after these 12, so this stretch has to build confidence and fan support or we will be in trouble... the Kings can not settle or be happy with 6 or 7 wins here.