Sacramento can’t afford to give this one away.
For the first time this season, the two best rookies in the Western Conference will face off against one another, as Sacramento heads to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves.
Despite the intrigue in the rookie of the year race between Tyrese Haliburton and Anthony Edwards, they aren’t the two faces of their franchises; those would be Kentucky alums De’Aaron Fox and Karl-Anthony Towns, each of whom has been near the top of his game recently. Towns has been the hub of the Minnesota offense in terms of scoring, facilitating, and rebounding. He’s putting up 24.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game.
Despite Towns’ best efforts, though, the Wolves simply aren’t very good. They have the worst record in the league and are bottom-five in both offense and defense, per Cleaning the Glass. Beyond Towns, it’s unclear where this team can look to for consistent production on either end of the floor.
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
When: Monday, April 5 at 4:00 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Opposing perspective: Canis Hoopus
Projected Starting Lineups
Kings (22-28): De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes
Wolves (12-38): Jordan McLaughlin, Josh Okogie, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns
Kings: Hassan Whiteside (right knee) — QUESTIONABLE; Marvin Bagley III (left-hand fracture) — OUT
Wolves: Malik Beasley (left hamstring), Jaylen Nowell (right tibia), Ricky Rubio (back spasms), D’Angelo Russell (left knee) — DOUBTFUL
Just because the Kings are favored in this matchup doesn’t mean they can look past the Wolves. A year ago, Sacramento required a miraculous comeback to beat a similarly bad Minnesota team, and it’s definitely not good form to rely on those types of heroics when the Kings could just come out with a strong first and take control of this game early.
Fox and Harrison Barnes will have significant advantages in their matchups, and the two of them have to set the tone accordingly. Buddy Hield, who will be $20,000 lighter in the pockets after being fined for complaining about the officiating in the Milwaukee game, should also be able to find some gaps against this defense.
The Kings aren’t usually the more veteran team relative to their opponent, but they’ll have that working in their favor tonight as well. It’s going to be disappointing if Sacramento doesn’t take this game seriously. Hopefully, the three-game losing streak points them in the right direction.