When the seeding game schedules were released, the matchups between Sacramento and New Orleans were immediately circled, as the two teams were among the top contenders for the ninth seed and berth in the Western Conference play-in game.
Instead, both the Kings and the Pelicans were eliminated from the postseason on Sunday and are playing out the string for the rest of the NBA restart. Both teams are resting a number of their key players in this matchup, and it is time to once again look ahead to the younger generation of players with the playoffs out of reach.
Where: AdventHealth Arena, Orlando, FL
When: 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: TNT, NBC Sports California, Fox Sports New Orleans, TSN3, KHTK Sports 1140 AM, ESPN 100.3FM
Kings: Marvin Bagley III (foot) — OUT, Kent Bazemore (calf) — OUT, De’Aaron Fox (shoulder) — OUT, Richaun Holmes (hip) — OUT
Pelicans: Jrue Holiday (elbow) — OUT, Brandon Ingram (knee) — OUT, Zion Williamson (knee) — OUT
We’ll update the starting lineups closer to tip-off rather than engage in wild speculation, but ideally, the Kings will go with a Stockton feel today with two starters and another key reserve out. The dream lineup today would be: birthday boy Kyle Guy, Buddy Hield, DaQuan Jeffries, Jabari Parker, and Alex Len. It may not make a ton of sense to play an impending free agent in Len, especially when Harry Giles III is available, but even in what essentially is an exhibition game, it would be nice to have some sort of defensive presence in the middle. Furthermore, Sacramento really should be considering re-signing Len this offseason.
The reason Hield is in that lineup is because it would suck for him to go into the offseason without reclaiming at least some of his mojo. Whether due to the coronavirus or other reasons, Orlando has been a slog for the sharpshooter. He’s still under contract for four more seasons, and it would behoove the Kings to attempt to repair that relationship.
Harrison Barnes has earned some time off, and Corey Brewer can easily fill his minutes. If Nemanja Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic want to play, that really is their decision, but it doesn’t make sense to put them at risk for injury. Thankfully, New Orleans doesn’t really play defense in the best of times, so that should be less of an issue.
Even though this game doesn’t count, it would be nice to see the Kings get off to a good start, defend the 3-point line, and keep the Pelicans out of transition. The team had an appropriate game plan to contain New Orleans during the last meeting, and regardless of who steps on to the court, those principles should still be met.
Enjoy the game! Remember, the Stockton Kings went 24-19 this season.