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Kings vs. Spurs Preview: Bagley Back?

Marvin Bagley could return to the Kings’ lineup tonight in San Antonio.

Kimani Okearah

Who: Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

When: Friday, December 6th — 5:30 PM PT / 8:30 PM ET

TV: NBCS CA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

Considering how much time we spent this summer talking about how difficult the Kings’ road to the playoffs in the Western Conference would be this season, back-to-back winnable losses against the Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trail Blazers really stings.

The good news is the Western Conference hasn’t been nearly as tough as anyone thought it would be. It’s obviously quite early, but the Phoenix Suns (Phoenix Suns!!) currently hold the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoff race with a mediocre 10-11 record. If the Kings had taken care of business against the Bulls and Blazers, they would be in that position today heading into another winnable matchup against the disappointing (so far) San Antonio Spurs.

I understand that the Kings just aren’t going to win every explicitly winnable game this season, and on the flip side, they’re going to win games they shouldn’t on paper, like Saturday’s 100-97 win over the 14-5 Denver Nuggets. At the same time, if the Kings miss the playoffs by a handful of games, we’ll inevitably look back on losing a home game to the Chicago Bulls, and to a much lesser extent, an away game against the Blazers who were on the 2nd night of a back-to-back set.

Of course, the Kings’ injuries are a factor here as well. I’m not sure that excuse works in the Bulls game, but on a whole, I’ve been impressed by their ability to compete in nearly every game since Marvin Bagley, and then De’Aaron Fox, and then Bogdan Bogdanovic, went down.

Fortunately for the Kings, Marvin Bagley was cleared for full-contact basketball activities on Thursday, and he’s with the team tonight in San Antonio. That’s clearly a promising development, but we haven’t received official word that he’s playing tonight just yet. Bogdan Bogdanovic’s status is also up in the air.

Needless to say, if Marvin Bagley and Bogdan Bogdanovic are playing tonight the Kings’ chances at securing the road win in San Antonio dramatically improve.

The Spurs are a very un-Spurs-like 8-14 on the season and are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. They did, however, defeat the Houston Rockets 135-133 in double-overtime on Tuesday, and considering the Kings have gone 1-4 in their last 5 games culminating in back-to-back disappointing losses, if anyone has momentum going into tonights matchup, it’s probably San Antonio.

Injury Report:

There hasn’t been a update yet this morning, but according to Basketball Reference:

LaMarcus Aldridge is listed as day-to-day (questionable) with a thigh injury.

Marvin Bagley is listed as day-to-day (doubtful) with a thumb injury.

Bogdan Bogdanovic is listed as questionable with a hamstring (possibly knee) injury.

De’Aaron Fox is out with an ankle injury.

Cory Joseph is day-to-day (questionable) with a back injury.

What To Watch For:

The Spurs are coming into tonights game taking the least 3PA’s and the most 2PA’s in the entire NBA. Despite the Spurs’ high frequency of 2PA’s, they are the only team in the league that shoots less shots at the rim than the Sacramento Kings. Expect a lot of the Spurs’ offense to come from the mid-range. They’ve been a middle-of-the-pack offensive team thus far, but they don’t turn the ball over which should limit the Kings’ ability to get easy buckets in transition.

Offenses are shooting a staggering .384 from 3 against the Spurs this season, 27th in the NBA, and this is an area of weakness the Kings are well equipped to exploit. As a team the Kings have shot a disappointing-considering-their-roster .353 from 3 this season, but this is a squad full of shooters that aren’t afraid to let it fly. That has seemingly been the game plan since Fox got hurt, and the Spurs are going to give the Kings plenty of opportunities to score from beyond the arc. It’s going to be up to the Kings to knock them down.

Prediction:

Kings win 112-107. Marvin Bagley returns and has a nice game off the bench. Bogdan Bogdanovic plays even though he probably needs a few more games to heal up. The Kings exploit the Spurs’ poor 3-point defense and shoot the ball well enough to secure the victory.