Sacramento fell 104-98 to the Miami Heat in its first game back on the court since the NBA went on hiatus March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Kings got good performances from Nemanja Bjelica, Yogi Ferrell and DaQuan Jeffries.
Jeffries is trying to get in the coaching staff’s gook books, especially with veteran Harrison Barnes still back in Sacramento dealing while working his way through the NBA’s coronavirus protocol.
“I definitely feel that way. If HB takes comes back, I can’t take steps back,” Jeffries said after the loss to the Heat. “I got to keep going forward and make my presence felt on the floor.”
Head coach Luke Walton will try to tinker with his rotations to find some chemistry. With Marvin Bagley III officially done for the season, and Richaun Holmes still getting up to speed with his conditioning, Walton will see which of his frontcourt players earns some more playing time when the games begin to count.
Center Harry Giles struggled against Miami. He was a team-worst -19, and finished with just four points and seven rebounds. With the Kings shorthanded in the middle, Walton is hopeful the 22-year-old can keep progressing leading up to the July 31 contest against the San Antonio Spurs.
“I think the biggest thing for Harry is he’s had this consistent time to put that work in every day. To start the season, Harry was kind of trying to get his body right — at the start of the normal season,” Walton said. “So the fact he came in, he’s been healthy, he’s been working extremely hard in practice and building that rhythm, I think that is allowing him to relax and play at the level that he’s been.”
Star guard De’Aaron Fox’s status will be updated closer to game time.
The Bucks — who are among the championship favorites — blew out the Spurs 113-92 in their scrimmage opener. Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee, finishing with 22 points and four rebounds.
This will be another good test for Sacramento as it prepares for the official restart. The good news is that this gives Walton and the coaching staff another opportunity to get the players on the same page.