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Kings vs. Mavericks Preview and Game Thread: It’s do or die for Sacramento

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If the Kings want to give themselves any sort of chance to make the playoffs, they have to beat the Mavericks.

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Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

We are about to find out what the Sacramento Kings are made of. After two ugly performance in the NBA’s restart, the Kings are facing a must-win situation against the Dallas Mavericks.

The good news for the Kings is that they still have a chance to make some noise. They only trail the Portland Trail Blazers, and San Antonio Spurs by one game for the No. 9 seed.

Dallas is also 0-2 in the bubble, but looks like firmly entrenched in the seventh spot, but the Mavericks will want to turn things around as the playoffs draw closer.

Game Information

Where: Orlando, Florida.

When: 11:30 a.m. PT

How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK SPORTS 1140 AM

Streaming: fuboTV, NBA League Pass

Injuries/Absences:

Kings: Marvin Bagley III (out), Alex Len (questionable)

Mavericks: Seth Curry (doubtful), Courtney Lee (out)

For Sacramento to get some momentum going in Orlando, it needs to be better in the first quarter. The Kings are giving up an average of 43.5 points in the first quarter over their two contests, and trailed by an average of 15.5 after the opening 12 minutes. Sacramento’s defense has been awful to start, but some of that falls on head coach Luke Walton.

He hasn’t made timely adjustments, and his team has gotten exposed because of it. Spurs’ guard DeMar DeRozan started as a power forward against the Kings, and he killed them on switches. Walton didn’t even bother to call a timeout when San Antonio went on a 19-0 run in the first quarter, and the Spurs never looked back.

Still, Walton is confident Sacramento will be able to get off to a better start over its final six games.

“To start games we have to be more more physical, more vocal, more willing to sacrifice our bodies, you know, little things like that that kind of spark a group,” Walton said. “We haven’t done that yet. Here in the bubble. We’ve had moments of it. We’ve had stretches of it I think when Cory Joseph and Corey Brewer were in the game. We saw a little bit of it, but it’s got to be from it’s got to be from the start.”

The Kings will have their hands full with the Mavericks’ dynamic duo. Luka Doncic has been lights out over the first two games, averaging 34 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.5 assists (why did Vlade pass on him again?), while Kristaps Porzingis has been great as well, putting up 34.5 points and 12 boards in Orlando. Dallas is shooting 33.8% from the 3-point line, and Sacramento will have to keep it around there if it has any hope of beating the Mavericks. If the Kings aren’t able to rotate better on the perimeter, Doncic and co. will light them up. Sacramento is allowing opponents to shoot 46.0% from deep over their first two games, by far the worst in the league.

Sacramento will also have to be better on the boards. The Spurs and Magic out-rebounded the Kings easily, holding them to just 44% of the total rebounds. This is another key for the Kings. The Mavs have gotten 52% of the boards over their first two contests, and if Sacramento can’t clean up on the glass, it will be facing yet another loss.

If the Kings want to get into the win column, they need guard Buddy Hield to turn things around. He is averaging just 9.0 points in Orlando on 27% shooting, hitting on just 20% of his 3-point attempts, a far cry from the 39.3% he was making prior to the shutdown.

Walton believes in Hield, and is optimistic the guard will turn things around.

“I think, Buddy’s gonna be fine,” Walton said. “Watching the game he’s gonna be fine, and you got to remember what how big of a role he was playing for us, especially when we made the switch in the rotation with him and Bogi, Buddy has given us 20 points a night shooting 40% from three and so like that’s a big part of us having success, and you know these type of games like that.”

Walton seems sure that his team will breakout against the Mavericks. He better hope it comes true, or the Kings will be eliminated from postseason contention after just three games in the bubble.