The Sacramento Kings head into South Florida to take on the 29-13 Miami Heat this afternoon, and the aimless Kings will look to avoid their third, five-game losing streak just halfway through the season, and those expecting a high-paced, exciting game are bound to be disappointed by today’s exhibition for a number of reasons. First and foremost, this is the Luke Walton-led Kings we’re talking about, a team that employs every available strategy to make games as unenjoyable as possible. And beyond that season-long detractor of fun, these two squads rank as the third and fourth slowest paced teams in the NBA, spent the night in Miami, on a holiday weekend, and have to try to wake up and get ready for an early afternoon competition that likely won’t impact either franchise’s long-term aspirations. I’m positive that no players on either side of the ball will be battling any “flu-like symptoms” today.
When: Monday, January 20th, 2:00 PST
Where: American Airlines Arena
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
The Heat are led by a highly-respected coaching staff that has managed to eke out every ounce of production from every member of their roster, leading the team to the fourth-best record in the NBA. Imagine that! Miami is led in most categories by the country-loving, football-throwing, occasionally franchise-ruining Jimmy Butler, who does a little bit of everything for his roster, scoring the most points (20.2), dishing out the most assists (6.4), and grabbing the second-most rebounds (7). He’s found a two-way partner in Bam Adebayo, a whirling dervish of a player who can block an opponent’s shot, secure the rebound, take the rock baseline-to-baseline, and throw it down over someone’s head. Those two likely All-Stars are joined by a pair of productive rookies who certainly make me glad that the Kings gave away their first round pick because the General Manager didn’t understand a basic provision of the CBA, and therefore weren’t forced to add cheap, productive talent to their cap-bloated roster that boasts two or three young players, in Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, as well as the always steady hand of Goran Dragic, who now comes off of the bench for Miami.
The Kings will be mostly healthy this afternoon, as Richaun Holmes is the only rotational player who will miss the game due to injury; however, Trevor Ariza will also be out due to the pending trade with the Portland Trailblazers. In all likelihood, De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, and Marvin Bagley III will start for Sacramento, and the Kings will need huge scoring games from each of those contributors if they have any hope of keeping it close this afternoon. On the defensive end of the floor, one can only hope that Walton breaks his habit of sticking Buddy Hield, his worst defender, on the opposing team’s best scorer, and assigns Barnes to try to slow down Butler’s multifaceted attack. If all of those stars align for the Kings, they’ll hold a slim chance to upset a much better team on the road.
I really don’t have a positive prediction in me. The Kings lose their fifth game in a row, continue to hold a death grip on the 14th seed in the Western Conference, fall six games out of eighth place, record seven fewer wins at this point than last season, post their 14th loss in the last 17 games, drop their season-long pace to 28 wins, fall to the sixth-worst record in the NBA, and post the second-worst start in the Vivek Ranadive era.
Miami 103 – Kings 88