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Kings vs. Thunder Preview: Playoff Talk?!

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The Kings are the thinnest of margins away from squeaking into the way-too-early-to-be-excited playoff picture and the Thunder are standing in their way.

Sacramento Kings v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

After absolutely wrecking the opening of their season, then losing their two expected focal points of the season to six weeks or more of injuries, the Kings are now just percentage points away from officially being in the fight for the playoffs. Just this last week, the Kings swept into Texas and came within two Trevor Ariza clanks and a missed Buddy jumper from annexing Texas into California, going 2-1 in the state. To make matters even more dramatic the Kings have announced their young stud of a big man, Marvin Bagley III, is probable to play in his first game since the season open where he broke his thumb rubbing a monkey’s paw while wishing to be at .500 by the end of the year. With the Kings signaling that De’Aaron Fox is less than a month away from returning to action, the Kings are in the improbable spot of having chemistry, having a decent record and adding their two big pieces back to the mix soon; nothing, nothing, nothing can go wrong there, right? My apologies for subjecting you to the far better previews of my fellow StR writers over the last few weeks while I’ve been dealing with some medical issues. It turns out I have a weak backbone, issues with my nerves and honestly, I would rather be completely spineless - just like 75% of those real Kings media figures!

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: December 11th, 7:00 PST

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Reusable Bags: This team is about to change and its going to be one hell of an ordeal to watch at first, especially when it comes to sliding Marvin Bagley into the gameplan. Two of the big reasons for the Kings resurgence and survival after that bushwhacking at the start of their season has been the play of big men Richaun Holmes and Nemanja Bjelica. If either of those guys decide at the beginning of the season to coast instead of kick their games into high gear, the season would have been lost. There’s a solid five or six games that those two men have won for the Kings and it’s been a pleasure seeing them flourish in the vacuous hole left my Marvin Bagley. Now that he’s returned and healthy, resources are going to be a bit more scarce. Minutes are going to dry up, passes are going to die in his hands a bit more frequently as he gets accustomed to this offensive flow he’s only gotten to watch for the last 22 games. Fate has dropped a healthy, fully grown redwood into Sacramento’s garden of sunflowers and they’re going to have to adjust their expectations of sunlight for a bit.

It won’t be easy for Marvin either. With the Kings heading into what is probably the softest portion of their season over the next fifteen games, expectations have grown back up through the ash and any faltering, any unexpected losses, risk the idea that Bagley’s inclusion on the court has stunted their growth. During a casual Twitter Q&A after the Kings win in Houston on Monday night, Peaches Napear mentioned that this was the best defense the Kings have played since the early 2000’s. That’s high praise for the current iteration of this team... though not necessarily all that high when you consider the last decade and a half. How will that defensive machine react to a kid who hasn’t gotten the reps, isn’t necessarily known for his defensive intelligence in the first place and is still three months out from being allowed to legally buy a six pack of beer after another 48 minutes of dodging Dwayne Dedmon’s widowmaker three point attempts? The Kings have won on the backs of their defense and that defense is bolstered by vets and vets only. Bagley is going to give up points just by virtue of being twenty years old.

The fit is going to be sloppy, frustrating at times and the pressure on him to succeed, and succeed quickly, is going to be at Mariana Trench levels for awhile. And, maybe for the second pick in an All-Time great draft, it should be. The fact remains, Bagley is back. With 60ish games left in the season, he’s going to have all the opportunity in the world to prove his place in the NBA landscape and barring another freak injury, we’re going to be in for some unreal highlights along the way.

Prediction

Chris Paul does some Chris Paul bullshit and we have to hear the words “leader” and “floor general” tacked onto his name more than enough times to make you roll our eyes. Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander is going to prove to be the real motor of this team and frustrate the hell out of you even more. Marvin’s going to have 16-10 on limited minutes and Buddy Hield is going to go for 30 and both he and Dennis Schröder will get thrown out for hee-honking each others testicles to prove one and for all who crushed DeMarcus Cousin’s fun bag the hardest.

Kings: 107, Thunder: 101