The Kings can keep up with the Clippers on offense, but they’ll need to be better than usual on the defensive end to win this one.
Coming fresh off of what can only be described as a collapse against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, the Sacramento Kings will be looking to bounce back against their toughest opponent of the season so far, the LA Clippers, on Friday.
Although they’ve struggled to be consistent this season, the Clippers still hold the second-best record in the Western Conference behind the Lakers. The Kings have struggled with consistency as well, but they don’t have the star power the Clippers do to carry them through their struggles.
What the Kings do have, though, is good guard depth, and that could pay dividends for them on Friday. Patrick Beverley, the Clippers’ starting point guard, may not be with his team in Sacramento for personal reasons, so the Clippers could have to turn to their bench for an additional ball handler. That hasn’t been a strength of theirs even when Beverley’s been available.
The Kings are also a better rebounding team than the Clippers, though that’s not saying much considering the Clippers are ranked dead last in the NBA in rebounds per game (40.7). In other words, there are a few things that could go in the Kings’ favor on Friday, but they need to be laser-focused on the defensive-end to upset the Clippers and get closer to a .500 record.
The Clippers will go into Friday’s game with the third-best offense in the NBA, while the Kings will go into the game with the worst defensive rating (118.2 points allowed per 100 possessions). Offensively, the Kings can hold their own against the Clippers, but defensively, they need to show more than they have as of late.
It might be too early into the season to say that this a “must-win” game, but these are definitely the type of games the Kings have to win if they want to sneak into the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
When: Friday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Projected Starting Lineups:
Kings (5-7): De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, Richaun Holmes
Clippers (8-4): Luke Kennard, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum
Kings: Buddy Hield (right ankle) — PROBABLE; Hassan Whiteside (left hip soreness) — QUESTIONABLE; Jahmi’us Ramsey (groin), DaQuan Jeffries (ankle) — OUT
Clippers: Patrick Beverley (personal), Lou Williams (hip) — QUESTIONABLE