The Kings are banged up, and the Heat are on a back-to-back. This could be a war of attrition.
The Kings were near their peak when the played the Heat three weeks ago in Miami. They didn’t come out of the game with a win, but it was Sacramento’s lone loss in eight games, and the Kings had a lead in the final two minutes against the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Now the Kings are arguably at their nadir. They’ve dropped their last four in mostly disastrous fashion, their defense has fallen off in the process, and the injuries are piling on. In addition to being without Richaun Holmes and Chimezie Metu, who both missed the last game against Brooklyn, the Kings won’t have Harrison Barnes, who has been their second-best player this season.
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
When: Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Opposing perspective: Hot Hot Hoops
Projected Starting Lineups
Kings (12-15): De’Aaron Fox, Cory Joseph, Buddy Hield, DaQuan Jeffries, Marvin Bagley
Heat (11-17): Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo
Kings: Harrison Barnes (left foot), Richaun Holmes (right knee), Chimezie Metu (right wrist) — OUT
Heat: Avery Bradley (right calf), Goran Dragic (left ankle) — OUT
Fortunately, the Heat aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire. They had won four games in a row but dropped a game Monday against a Clippers squad missing four starters and then lost in Golden State last night when the Warriors didn’t have Draymond Green. (They also lost to Utah without Mike Conley, but there’s absolutely no fault in falling to the Jazz these days). Miami has made a habit of losing to shorthanded teams, and the Kings are exactly that.
In order to be successful against the Heat, Sacramento will have to limit their 3-point volume, keep them off the foul line, and turn them over. The Kings accomplished two of those keys in Miami but lost the free-throw battle en route to losing the game.
There might be a rest advantage for the Kings, who haven’t played since Monday, while the Heat went into overtime against the Warriors Wednesday. Then again, the Heat could be singularly focused to come out with a win after blowing a 19-point lead in San Francisco. There have been six teams to play the Kings and Warriors in consecutive games this season, and only the Nets have won both. The other five matchups were splits, which isn’t good news for Sacramento.
But streaks are made to be broken. The Kings can break that trend Thursday and end their four-game losing stretch in the process while exacting some revenge on the Heat. It’s all there for the taking.