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Kings vs. Heat Preview: The first test of the New Year

Sacramento kicks off the new year with the visiting Heat.

Dallas Mavericks v Sacramento Kings Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings will kick off the New Year with an afternoon matinee against the short-handed Miami Heat on Sunday.

Sacramento ended 2021 in a disappointing fashion, as a third-quarter collapse led to their demise in a 112-96 loss to the short-handed Dallas Mavericks. That game reemphasized that the Kings are liable to lose to any team on any night regardless of who they are missing.

In that Dallas game, Sacramento got off to a dominant start and seemingly lost all their mojo at some point in the second quarter and could never get it back.

On Sunday against a better opponent, Sacramento can’t afford quarters where they just don’t show up.

Miami enters this game ravaged with injuries and COVID-19 absences and will be relying on a lot of 10-day contracts for this game. One of those guys is former King Kyle Guy, who tied his career-high of 17 points in his first game with Miami on Friday. The Heat also signed another former King, Nik Stauskas to a 10-day deal, so he could also receive some minutes on Sunday.

Despite their injury situation, the Heat have won five in a row and nine out of their last 11 games.

Sacramento will be without Richaun Holmes who just entered COVID-19 protocols on Saturday. I’d expect Damian Jones to receive the start in his place or at the very least the lion's share of minutes at the center position.

Who knows which Kings team comes out today, but it seems like these afternoon tips off times have made for some strange and sluggish performances.

How to Watch/Listen: NBC Sports California, Sports 1140 KHTK

Opposing Perspective: Hot Hot Hoops

Spread: Heat -3.5

Moneyline: Heat -165, Kings +145

SAC injuries/absences: Richaun Holmes - Out (Health and Safety Protocols), Terence Davis - Questionable (Ankle)

MIA injuries/absences: Bam Adebayo - Out (Thumb), Dewayne Dedmon - Out (Knee), Victor Oladipo - Out (Knee), Markieff Morris Out (Neck) Udonis Haslem- Out (Health and Safety Protocols), Duncan Robinson- Out (Health and Safety Protocols), P.J. Tucker - Out (Health and Safety Protocols), Max Strus - Out (Health and Safety Protocols), Gabe Vincent - Out.