The last time the Kings matched up against the Wolves, they had real ambitions of making the play-in tournament and just had to take care of business against one of the league’s bottom-dwellers.
Instead, Sacramento lost and is now five games back of the tenth seed, and the Wolves have been increasingly frisky. Minnesota beat Chicago and Miami recently and pushed Boston to overtime. The Wolves are coming off a bad loss in Los Angeles to the Clippers Sunday, but it probably just gave them more rest considering how early that game was decided.
Both teams had to travel to Sacramento for this game after playing on Sunday, so the rest advantage is essentially moot. One thing working in the Kings favor, though: fans in the building for the first time this season. Hopefully, that gives the team some extra life.
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
When: Tuesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Opposing perspective: Canis Hoopus
Projected Starting Lineups
Kings (23-34): De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Moe Harkless, Hassan Whiteside
Timberwolves (15-43): Ricky Rubio, Anthony Edwards, Josh Okogie, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns
Kings: Marvin Bagley III (hand), Richaun Holmes (right hamstring), Robert Woodard II (low back soreness) — OUT
Timberwolves: Jaylen Nowell (right tibia) — DOUBTFUL; Malik Beasley (left hamstring) — OUT
One player who should be particularly psyched to play in front of the Sacramento fans is Tyrese Haliburton, who has yet to be welcomed by his home crowd in his first season. Haliburton’s impact has been a bit diminished since he was benched in favor of Moe Harkless, but the Kings will need the rookie’s defense against fellow sixth man D’Angelo Russell, who torched them late in the last matchup.
It might also help to have another taller player in the starting lineup to help contend with Karl-Anthony Towns on the possessions where Towns operates as a facilitator in the high post at the top of the key; that could allow the Kings to keep Hassan Whiteside in the paint to protect the rim. Minnesota doesn’t have great shooters in the starting lineup other than Towns, so guarding the basket should be top priority.
On offense, allowing Whiteside to go after the Wolves center and bully him a little bit in the post could be a good idea, especially if it gets Towns in foul trouble. Whiteside was able to use his heft to his advantage against Dallas as the Kings got off to a good start in that game.
The Kings may not have enough time to get back into the postseason hunt, but they owe it to the fans to at least make this competitive and put on a good show. There are only eight home games left.