The last time the Kings faced off against the Bucks was during their worst stretch of the season, a nine-game losing streak that included injuries to most of the team’s key players.
Sacramento is healthier now, and at home, but it remains to be seen if their quality of play is any better than it was then. The team had won seven of its last nine games before dropping an inexcusable contest to the Lakers, and the defense was at the heart of that turnaround. To then surrender a 115.0 offensive rating to a Los Angeles squad that was barely topping 100 points per possession in LeBron James’ absence over the past two weeks was rather disappointing, and things don’t get any easier with the Bucks.
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
When: Saturday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Projected Starting Lineups
Kings (22-27): De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Tyrese Haliburton, Richaun Holmes
Bucks (31-17): Jrue Holiday, Donte DiVincenzo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez
Kings: Hassan Whiteside (right knee) — QUESTIONABLE; Marvin Bagley III (left-hand fracture), Jahmi’us Ramsey (right hamstring strain) — OUT
Bucks: Bobby Portis and Jeff Teague (health and safety protocols) — QUESTIONABLE; P.J. Tucker (left calf) — OUT
Both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back, though the Kings are at least not traveling while Milwaukee is coming over from Portland, where the Bucks absolutely thrashed the Blazers Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 47 points on 18-of-21 shooting, a figure that strikes a great deal of fear into a team’s interior defense, since all three of his misses came from long distance. It’s hard to say that Richaun Holmes is a meaningfully better rim protector than Jusuf Nurkic, so containing the two-time MVP will require building a wall around the paint.
Milwaukee is also shooting 39.4 percent on 3-pointers this season, fourth in the league per Cleaning the Glass, so taking away the paint isn’t the cure-all to defending this group. The Kings might be a little undersized in their starting lineup against a team with two big forwards like Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton and could stand to mix in a little more Moe Harkless and Delon Wright to avoid getting bullied. DaQuan Jeffries was also successful in the last matchup, suggesting that more wings might be the way to go.
Luke Walton has been loath to change his starting lineup unless injury demands it, however, so hopefully the starters stay within contact. That would give the bench the opportunity to feast against Milwaukee’s lesser reserves.
In a lot of games against contenders this season, the Kings have been out of it almost immediately after the ball tips. They have to bring more fight this time, more than they brought against the Lakers, or else this could get ugly.