Wednesday night's loss to the 76ers was rock bottom for some Sacramento Kings fans. For others it was an outright embarrassment, or even the deciding factor between support and apathy. For the team itself, however, the only thing beyond speculation was that it was Game 32. There are 50 games left on the schedule; 50 chances to sink or swim, to begin to earn back or destroy the goodwill of your particular fandom. Saturday afternoon's matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings can be seen at Sleep Train Arena, on CSN-CA and NBATV, can be heard on KHTK 1140 and starts at 2pm. Welcome to the very first game of 2016. Only 80 to go before 2017! Let's talk Kings basketball.
Something to Consider:
Two (Sinking) Ships, Passing In the Night: Saturday afternoon's match up with the Phoenix Suns features two of the most dysfunctional teams in the NBA this season. Phoenix, who started off the season 6-4 has now won just six in their next twenty-five games. They're currently in the midst of a seven game losing streak, and yet still attempt to put the "fun" in dysfunctional. In their last five games, they've lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Oklahoma City Thunder by four points in each game, have been blown out by the Spurs by 33, and lost to both the Nuggets by eight and current super team, the Philadelphia 76ers, by seven. Phoenix has found ways to lose against the bad, mediocre, respectable and elite alike, while playing up to some of the better teams in the league while struggling against some of the worst. Sound familiar? Not yet? What if I told you they had a starting big guy who was considered by most to be a malcontent, and that he clashes with the decision making and style of both his front office and head coach? Both Phoenix and Sacramento came sauntering into the 2015-2016 season talking playoffs and have so far, been chased back towards the cellar door by the teams they faced. In a match between two teams who wanted to push themselves into this season with gusto, and instead have been dragged all of the floor, will a team even show up that comes out hungry and ready to prove that the first 30 or so games was a fluke, or will it be a shrug-off between players; first to 30 blame-deflections wins.
Matchup of Game:
Jeff Hornacek vs. The Phoenix Suns vs. The Sacramento Kings vs. George Karl: For Sacramento and its three straight momentum wrecking losses, the question isn't about how George Karl and staff will adjust, but rather, can they? Sacramento has found new ways to shoot themselves in the foot every single game, and with each passing game, the murmurs and feelings seep out that members of the team are beginning to tune the coaching staff out. For Sacramento, they have DeMarcus and the locker room blow up; for Phoenix they have Markieff Morris throwing towels at Coach Jeff Hornacek. Similar issues have arisen between Coach Hornacek's staff and the players, in fact, so much so that they recent release two assistant coaches to help ease some of the growing tension. With each of these men on opposite ends of their coaching career but both firmly on the hot seat, their reach and influence on players is now being called into question. Reigning in dissent and quelling disrest is usually the job for dictators, but if either coach wants to keep their job, and keep their team pointed north, they will have to gameplan as much for their own team as for their opponent.
Odds and Ends:
-This game sees the return of former Sacramento King, Ronnie Price. Price is still wanted for murder in Sacramento after brutally and viciously attacking one rim, and killing an innocent Carlos Boozer.
- One last thing about the Philadelphia 76ers that should be pointed out for the sake of impressing your friends this weekend: Each of their wins has come against the Pacific Division. Lakers, Suns, Kings. They're climbing the ladder out here on the West Coast, but I don't plan on telling the Clippers or Warriors there's a Ben Franklin like shadow sliding up behind them if you don't.
Prediction: The Kings have bled so much with out a Band-Aid but decide a good win is in order to patch things up on a sunny Saturday, Phoenix shows up in their PJ's for a night game, and the Kings put their Sacramento Proud brand on this, the first match-up of 2016: Kings: 110, Suns 95.
As always, for the other side of the coin, head on over to Bright Side Of The Sun.