It's funny that the race to get into the playoff position that won't have to face the Spurs or Mavericks in the first round mostly centers around one team's ability to beat either Spurs or Mavericks in the final dozen games of the season.
Without taking one in Texas, the Kings will have tough work ahead by falling 2.5 behind the Lakers with six left. They'd still be in decent shape as far as getting into the playoffs goes, but the 7th spot would be pure pipe dream.
And it's clear that the Spurs > the Mavs, not just head to head, but when it comes to matching up across the better part of the league. The Kings, for example, are typically stymied against the Spurs. Brad Miller is never effective, Mike Bibby can't keep up with Tony Parker, TIm Duncan does just enough to get the win.
But against the Mavs, the Kings battle. The Dirk can be neutralized (before by Peja, now by Ron-Ron). Bibby can match Terry drive for drive, shot for shot. The stigma is different - Sacramento has beaten the Mavericks. Sacramento can beat the Mavericks.
Yet, the Kings don't want to see the Mavericks in the first round. (And they probably wouldn't anyways - the Spurs would have to lose Duncan or Parker to slip out of first, realistically.) They want the Suns. In their minds, for every once they can beat the Mavs, they can beat the Suns twice.
So it goes. To avoid the Spurs/Mavs, the Kings must beat the Spurs/Mavs. The easier one comes tonight.
To the lineups.
PG - Mike Bibby
SG - Bonzi Wells
SF - Ron Artest
PF - Kenny Thomas
C - Brad Miller
PG - Jason Terry
SG - Marquis Daniels
SF - Josh Howard
PF - THe Dirk
C - DeSagana Diop
The line is +7, the tip is soon and the playoff situation is described rather thoroughly below. To the game!
Let's go Kings!