We have officially reached the first day of the season when a team can be eliminated from playoff contention. Fortunately, it’s not the Kings, but given their recent 1-10 stretch, they’re not too far behind.
If San Antonio wins and Minnesota loses tonight, the Timberwolves will be out of the playoffs with 13 games to play. For reference, no team has clinched a playoff berth in either conference, and the Rockets (also with 43 losses) could be out of the hunt today, too.
All of that doesn’t directly affect Sacramento, but it is a reminder of the stakes — or the lack thereof — at this point of the season. The Kings can’t realistically make the playoffs; all they can do is knock the Wolves out of them.
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
When: Wednesday, April 21 at 7 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Opposing perspective: Canis Hoopus
Projected Starting Lineups
Kings (23-35): De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Moe Harkless, Hassan Whiteside
Timberwolves (16-43): 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
Even beating Minnesota might be a tall task tonight, though. The Wolves have had the Kings’ number this season, particularly in the fourth quarters. The road team reeled off a 14-0 run in the final frame last night to take control after pulling off a similar feat in the first matchup in Minnesota.
Adjustments haven’t exactly been Sacramento’s strong suit all season. That weakness often manifests itself in the third quarter, but this was the second straight game the Kings got their bell rung in the fourth, though it didn’t cost them against Dallas. Anthony Edwards really got going last night, so it might be worthwhile to put Tyrese Haliburton on him more often, since Haliburton is Sacramento’s best guard defender. Haliburton’s minutes have been limited since he went back to the bench; it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the Kings also haven’t been as good.
We’ll see if Luke Walton sticks with the same plan tonight, or if the Kings have anything new up their sleeves.