Apr 10, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Keith Smart reacts from the sidelines during the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. The Mavs beat the Kings 110-100. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Eternal disclaimer: I am :-( when the Kings lose, no matter the draft lottery repercussions.
A loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday and a win by Cleveland "lifted" the Sacramento Kings into the No. 4 spot in the Ping Pong Derby. The Kings are now 19-39 and the Cavaliers are 19-36. Sacramento has eight games remaining, with five of them against the top three teams in the Western Conference (including a stunning three games against the Thunder). Cleveland has 11 games left, with eight against playoff teams. If both teams beat their non-playoff opponents (Kings draw New Orleans, Portland and Charlotte; Cleveland draws Washington twice and Detroit) and lose to the playoff teams, they'd finish the season tied at 22-44.
Chances are that won't happen -- there's no sense that all of the playoff teams in either conference will be playing to win in the final days as rest takes precedence, and neither the Kings or Cavs are sure bets against any opponent. (Would you be surprised if the Hornets beat the Kings on Wednesday?) So we'll see how it shakes out.
And because the Kings get jobbed in the draft lottery every year, the final standings do matter, solely because x + 3 (where x equals the Kings' position in the reverse rankings) is where Sacramento will assuredly end up picking.